My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I am in awe of authors who can change from one distinct genre to another and do both a great service. I have read one of CJ Sansom’s Shardlake series – Dissolution. Which are based in the 16th Century around the reign of Henry VIII and focus on Shardlake, a hunchback lawyer solving mysteries. His attention to detail and master of story telling made it a compelling read.
His switch to something a little more modern, Winter in Madrid, focusing on the end of the Spanish Civil War was just as compelling and again the historical detail and timing is the basis of an amazing story of struggle, survival and relationships.
Three boys who were boarders at private school, find their paths crossing and re-crossing in later life. War, espionage, internment, betrayal are all wrapped up in this gripping novel that I found myself reading in a Joyce Grenfell accent whenever the ‘old boys’ were speaking. The insight into the end of the Civil War and how desperate life was for Spanish civilians still reeling from destruction was fascinating but very uncomfortable reading at times.
Spain was teetering on entering the Second World War and was being courted by both German & British governments. The corruption of the authorities was astonishing. It was almost farcical that the British & German embassies were next door to each other, but all this historical backdrop paled in comparison to the human tragedies portrayed throughout. I was really rooting for the survival of Harry, Bernie & Barbara and was rather stunned at the end of the novel. I hadn’t expected the outcomes and the twists and turns continued right to the end.
A great novel, I highly recommend and I’m definitely adding Madrid to my list of ‘must’ visit cities.
Over on my other blog
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