THE TIME IN BETWEEN by Maria Dueñas translated by Daniel Hahn

I loved reading THE TIME IN BETWEEN by Maria Dueñas. I had never read this author before, and she did a wonderful job of keeping my nose in her book, mainly because she kept changing my expectations about what the story was about.

At first, I thought the book was going to be about fashions in the 1930s and 1940s, because every time she described Sira picking up her needle the writing became so sensuous.

Then I thought it was going to be a quest novel about how find the jewelry that slick businessman Ramiro Arribas had stolen from her, jewelry given to her by her mysterious aristocratic father whom she’d never met until she was an adult. That disastrous affair took her to Morocco and again I loved Ms. Dueñas’ descriptions of the sounds, smells and sights of that exotic locale.

Like other readers, I thought this book got better as it went along. In particular, I thought the ending was very well handled. (It was an elegant understated ending suitable to the modest heroine of the piece.) The beginning of the novel was spoiled for me by the character’s unfortunate habit of making speeches to each other, long speeches giving lots of information, which would have been better presented if it had been slipped into the text in manageable bite-size pieces. I don’t know if this was a problem with the original Spanish text, or if the translator was to blame, but it was particularly noticeable in the early scenes between Rosalinda Fox and Siri, in which Rosalinda went on and on (and on and on) about her relations with Juan Luis Beigbeder and Spanish politics. Strangely enough this problem became less glaring as the novel went along.

If you love reading about fashion and glamor in the 1930s and 1940s, you should definitely read this book. Four stars.