I just heard that a Spanish novel I loved two summers ago is out in English. I cannot recommend it highly enough, dear friends.

The Time in Between, by Maria Dueñas, is set during the Spanish Civil War and the run-up to World War II.  While it’s true that there is no shortage of novels written in Spain about the defining event of its 20th century, this is a wonderful addition. And it’s Dueñas’ first novel.

Sira Quiroga, the protagonist, is a fictional character, but many in the supporting cast — including British spy-master, Alan Hillgarth — are historical figures. The narrative is engrossing and settings are beautifully described, with fabrics and furnishings that you can almost touch. For me, the novel’s strongest suit is Sira’s growth as a woman, from victim to powerhouse. Her story echos the reality of many Spanish women of the time, who were forced by circumstances to become clever, tough, and independent. It is perhaps difficult for a foreign reader to imagine just how repressed pre-Republic women were in Spain, or how brutally hard the war years were, but The Time in Between paints a vivid picture of fascinating woman living at a crucial period in world history. And oh, the clothes!

You will not want to miss it!