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The Scent of Lemon Leaves [Paperback]

Clara Sanchez
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
RRP: £7.99
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Book Description

28 Mar 2013
Having left her job and boyfriend, thirty-year-old Sandra decides to stay in a village on the Costa Brava in order to take stock of her life and find a new direction. She befriends Karin and Fredrik, an elderly Norwegian couple, who provide her with stimulating company and take the place of the grandparents she never had. However, when she meets Julian, a former concentration-camp inmate who has just returned to Europe from Argentina, she discovers that all is not what it seems and finds herself involved in a perilous quest for the truth.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Alma Books Ltd; Tra edition (28 Mar 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846882435
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846882432
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 13.1 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 117,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Part thriller, part love story, and with beautifully evocative descriptions, this is a fascinating read - with a completely unexpected ending.' --We Love This Book magazine

'This is a wonderful novel... it hides the dark story of deceit and hidden secrets. The characters of Sandra and Julian are engaging and while we become absorbed in their plight and actions, we are left feeling satisfied at the unexpected ending... The book reads at a good pace and that is partly due to the excellent translation which also gives a believable sense of time and place. It is a book I shall remember for a long time.' --York Press

About the Author

Born in Guadalajara, Clara Sanchez is the author of eight novels including Ultimas noticias del paraiso (2000) which won the prestigious Alfaguara Prize in 2000. She is a newspaper columnist for top-selling Spanish newspaper El Pais and has been an occasional contributor for national television. Her books have all been translated in several languages.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Romantic sounding title but a dark story 4 July 2012
`The Scent of Lemon Leaves' has already been a bestseller in Spain and Italy and in spite of her being considered to be one of Spain's most accomplished authors Clara Sanchez is an unknown quantity in the UK, hopefully this novel will redress the balance. The title has a romantic ring to it but don't let that fool you; this is not a lightweight tale of a woman's experiences on the Costa Brava.

The story is told in the voices of 2 characters Sandra and Julian. Sandra has reached a turning point in her life, she is 30, pregnant and unmarried and decides to take some time to sort out her life. She goes to stay in a village on the Costa Brava where she meets an old Norwegian couple, Karin and Frederik, on the beach and they become friends. Julian is a Nazi Hunter, now in his 80's and living at home in Argentina. A letter from a friend that he met in the Mauthausen concentration camp persuades him to travel to the Costa Brava. Sandra and Julian meet and Sandra discovers the true identities of her Norwegian friends, members of an organization known as `The Brotherhood'.

`The Scent of Lemon Leaves' is an exploration of history but it is also a compelling thriller with an unexpected ending. The characters are engaging and the descriptions beautifully evoke the area in which the novel is set. In fact the beauty of the area, like the title of the novel, provides a complete contrast to the darkness of the story which is all the more frightening when you know that much of the novel is based on fact.

I look forward to reading further translations of this authors work, hopefully there is already another one on its way.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Scent of Lemon Leaves 1 July 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This novel was originally written in Spanish but has now been translated into English. It is well-written and the translation is skilful. It is an intriguing and thought-provoking merger of fact and fiction. The story is set in a Spanish Costa. There are two central characters and each tells their story in the first person, each person taking alternative chapters to speak. Firstly we have Sandra, a young Spanish woman. She has discovered she is pregnant and has come to stay in her sister's holiday home until she decides what she intends to do. She is immature, indecisive, feckless and has never had to take any responsibilty in her life so far. Secondly there is Julian, an elderly Spanish gentleman, now living in Argentina who returned to Spain to visit a friend of his, who unfortunately had died by the time Julian reached Spain. Julian and his deceased friend were survivors of a Nazi concentration camp and after the war both had dedicated their lives to tracking down Nazi war criminals and ensuring they were brought to justice. Julian's friend had written to him tellimg him that he had discovered a pair of Nazis - a husband and wife - living close to him in Spain. Although he is now 80 years old, Julian is determined to expose them.

Sandra becomes involved with the Nazi couple after they help her when she is taken ill on the beach. Completely unaware of their past, she thinks of them as the grandparents she doesn't have. Julian feels obliged to warn Sandra of the couple's true identity. To Sandra, the war and the Holocaust are ancient history and she doesn't know what to believe. However, she watches the couple closely and realises that Julian is right. She and Julian join forces to bring the couple to justice.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mungo 30 Aug 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is the first review that I have written and I'm doing it now because I think that this is the most incredibly good book.
I cannot see why some reviewers have given it such a low rating. To my mind it is well written, fascinating, absorbing etc. I find it hard to put down, but my husband needs feeding!

I cannot recommend it more highly.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even monsters fall in love 27 July 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If you were to judge this book by its cover, you wouldn't be blamed for thinking that you would be in for quite a romantic, atmospheric book. You would only be half right. It is certainy atmospheric, but there is nothing romantic about it. THE SCENT OF LEMON LEAVES definitely has atmosphere, but this atmosphere is a brooding one.

I won't go into the synopsis of the novel, that has been done already, what I will say is that this novel is very well written. All of the characters are well drawn; some are actually based on real people. Julian, especially, really touched me. I desperately wanted to protect him, but I also admired him for how he went about his task. This is one literary character who certainly has courage. So, although he is vulnerable due to his age and physical state, you are also able to see that he has strength; in fact, at times, I had to remind myself that he was an elderly man. Sandra is also vulnerable, but in very different ways. Her character is the complete opposite of Julian. She has a naivety to her, as she has never experienced the atrocities that Julian has. For the book to be so successful, it needs both of these characters to juxtapose each other.

THE SCENT OF LEMON LEAVES is a beautifully written book about memory, justice, revenge, retribution and love, to name a few. The central exploration of how, after performing so many atrocities in the past, can or should those same people then go on to live a 'normal' life, remains a relevant and intellectually stimulating debate. I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys literature with depth and soul.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Scent of Lemon Leaves
Didn't enjoy this book at all. Not at all well written (or perhaps lost in translation) and a very unbelievable plot.
Published 3 months ago by susan skinner
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable book
Maybe I hoped for a bit more at the end but I enjoyed the story. Interesting theme and you do wonder what would you have done.
Published 3 months ago by J. R. Lloyd
2.0 out of 5 stars Not my favoured read
This book proved to be not what I originally thought and as I do not like this type of story, I did not carry on reading beyond the first few pages.
Published 6 months ago by Marilyn773
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
A wonderful book - I couldn't put it down. I liked the sensitivity of the relationship between the two main characters, and the dark secrets that emerged.
Published 6 months ago by Mrs. Jessica Webber
5.0 out of 5 stars Scent of lemon leaves
Great story which resonates long after you finish book. Characters are unusual but believable. I was sorry when book ended!!
Published 6 months ago by Elizabeth McDermott
2.0 out of 5 stars Still confused
It took me a good few weeks to plough my way through this, as it wasn't a cant-put-down type book. A word of warning- it's good if you like nazis, but I'm personally no closer to... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Robadini
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book !
What a fantastic book, very well written. This book will keep you entertained until the last page, it is thought provoking, it makes you smile and makes you sad, but most of all... Read more
Published 7 months ago by P. Lightowler
5.0 out of 5 stars Great and compelling read.
The title and illustration on the cover are misleading. Don't know what publisher thinking of. However a great translation.

But the story is compelling. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Jan Fox
2.0 out of 5 stars couldn't get into this book at all
I didnt like the jumping from Sandra to Julian as for me the story didnt flow. I also thought the story line a bit far fetched.
Published 13 months ago by hohum
5.0 out of 5 stars A Slow Burner
A real slow burner - the tension builds up in this book little by little - you are never sure what is going to happen (I think this would make a great film). Read more
Published 13 months ago by HJK
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