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89 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A damm good read!
I was lent this book by a friend and I have to say that initially I felt it wasn't my type of book - I usually read a lot of detective books. However, I found myself completely drawn into the story. I won't repeat the story as you can read the synopsis from the book and others have also given the gist of the book (although I feel not to the book's advantage)...
Published on 15 April 2009 by Lindy Lou

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86 of 89 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a review! A warning for potential purchasers
Before launching into the reviews set out below, please beware that several give crucial parts of the plot away without warning!
Published on 18 Sep 2009 by Mg Sj Shorthose


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89 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A damm good read!, 15 April 2009
This review is from: The Return (Paperback)
I was lent this book by a friend and I have to say that initially I felt it wasn't my type of book - I usually read a lot of detective books. However, I found myself completely drawn into the story. I won't repeat the story as you can read the synopsis from the book and others have also given the gist of the book (although I feel not to the book's advantage).

I live in Spain and the descriptions of modern Granada and Andalucia made me yearn for the image of Spain that until quite recently it used to be - white-washed buildings, proud Spanish, gentle pace of life. When the author then took the readers back in time to the events around the Spanish Civil war, I couldn't believe how angry I became at the completely senseless waste of human life. I knew very little about the war and this book was my catalyst for finding out more about it.

I have never read a book which has stirred my emotions in such a way as this one, and I would recommend it to anyone. In fact another friend now has the book and she feels the same pull of the book too. So perhaps its because we are in Spain and we are more empathic to the content than others, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and could't put it down.
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86 of 89 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a review! A warning for potential purchasers, 18 Sep 2009
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This review is from: The Return (Paperback)
Before launching into the reviews set out below, please beware that several give crucial parts of the plot away without warning!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars DULL/INAcCURATE/DISSAPOINTING, 11 May 2009
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This review is from: The Return (Paperback)
Being from Granada(Spain) I was drawn to pick up this book. Surprisingly , it turned out to be a poor account of the Spanish civil war put on the mouths of some boring characters.It is more exciting to read a history book than this one. Hislop shows a poor ability to describe Spanish culture to say the least.The book drags, it is repetitive and inacurately describes the city of Granada and its heritage. Maybe she should write DIY manuals or gardening handbooks next time.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 5 Feb 2009
This review is from: The Return (Paperback)
I have just finished reading The Return and have discussed it at my local book club. We are all fascinated to know if anyone else spotted the bizarre differences in the the dates and ages of the main characters? It sounds really petty but actually it really annoyed me as it makes it all so improbable and really spoilt the book. We are told that Mercedes was twelve in 1931. She marries in 1955 and gives birth to Sonia sometime after that. However, at the beginning of the book we are told it is 2001. Sonia was 27 when she met her husband James and they married two years later. Sonia then goes to Granada for the first time, five years after her wedding - meaning she must have been born in approx 1968. This means Mercedes gave birth aged 53? Is that really likely? All very odd and ill-conceived.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A little disjointed, 29 Jun 2009
By 
Paula O'Donnell "Mrs Book Worm" (Dublin , Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Return (Paperback)
I found this read a little disjointed . I felt almost like I was reading two novels that the author had been working on and then decided it might be an idea to knit the two together!!
The tale woven around the Spanish Civil war was well written and I imagine representative of a country torn apart by terrible brutality and civil unrest .
The modern link I found slightly cliched and little rambling . I think the historical part of this novel could easily have danced alone without the help of Sonia et al .
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53 of 60 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strange hybrid of hen-lit and harrowing war narratives, 30 Aug 2009
This review is from: The Return (Paperback)
The first 150-pages of this novel are fairly mundane chick-lit - or rather hen-lit -stuff; in 2001 two female friends, Sonia and Maggie, approaching middle age, go off to Granada for a dance course.

The descriptions of the dance classes and the routines they have to follow are interesting at first but for me they soon begun to pall. Maggie finds a Spanish lover and Sonia makes friends with an elderly waiter who starts to tell her about the Spanish Civil War and its effect on people he knew.

When we switch to the waiter's narration the tone darkens. Many of the scenes described during the war are harrowing and I can understand why someone who bought this book as a light beach read might be disappointed with it.

Victoria Hislop has researched the subject and is able to describe situations vividly. I found this war section of the book, if not exactly enjoyable, informative; for example, I was shocked at the treatment Spanish refugees received when they fled to France.

Where I felt the book went wrong was having this framework of starting the book in the 21st Century, going back to the period of the Spanish Civil War, and then returning to Sonia in an attempt to tie the two stories together. The link between Sonia and the waiter's war narrative - which I won't reveal - is contrived and failed to suspend disbelief. I feel it would have been far better to have set the novel entirely around the period of the Civil War and its immediate aftermath.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slower than The Island but still very enjoyable., 30 Aug 2011
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This review is from: The Return (Paperback)
I read this a while after The Island and found it harder to get "into". A friend warned me that it "wasn't as good as The Island" and I am not sure if I was mindful of this while getting into the book. I am very glad that I did read it. The Return is a very different book and deals with another family finding out things about their past and although the conclusion was a little predictable I thought that the book on the whole was a good read. It made me feel uncomfortable at times as the Spanish Civil War unfolded and the human suffering was laid out but then its a topic that should. I am looking forward to The Thread.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read if a bit predictable, 13 Nov 2009
By 
Janie U (Kings Cliffe, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Return (Paperback)
A lot of books written in 2 time periods flip back and forwards with the effect that they can become confused. This book doesn't and I think it is better for this. The present day characters have the opportunity to become established in the readers mind before the story goes back to the 1930s using a natural story telling technique rather than an interuption in the flow of the narrative.
The great strength of this book is the plot. It tracks along at a good pace, weaving in and out of historical events and reflecting the effects on the family.
The language is a bit disappointing. It is fairly simple, which makes the book easy to read, but does not seem to make the most of the beautiful setting in the south of Spain. Oddly the occasional unusual word is thrown in the text - good to see a challenging vocabulary but it felt a bit incongruous along with the simple writing style.
I didn't know much about the Spanish Civil War before starting this book. Victoria Hislop manages to put a very human slant on the conflict by showing the determination and suffering of the people on both sides of the war. i found this very effective at triggering my interest and I did some research about the war to increase my knowledge.
I did see the ending coming and it all felt a bit clumsy but didn't take away my enjoyment of the book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rather Dull!, 10 Jun 2009
This review is from: The Return (Paperback)
If only this had been Victoria's first book then I think I would have enjoyed it more, but having read The Island and could not put it down or forget the story, The Return was deeply disappointing. So much detail about Salsa dancing and although I agree the Spanish War was dreadful I found myself skipping bits as it just went on and on. Then just as I thought of giving up I found that when Mercedes came to the UK it became interesting and more like The Island. Overall, very, very disappointed, lets hope that if there is a 3rd book it will be more like The Island though that will be very difficult to follow.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Far-fetched but moving, 9 May 2009
By 
Mr. D. P. Gates "Dilano" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Return (Hardcover)
Having lived for a while in Granada, I decided to buy this book despite it being a novel unlikely to be marketed at male readers. It started off quite well as Hislop has definitely done her research and her descriptions of the city brought back memories of my time there. There are basically two stories in the book: an English woman aiming to change her life and a Spanish family dealing with the horrors of the Civil war. Although the two stories are fascinating separately, the author welds them together in the most cliched and frankly ridiculous way imaginable. The denouement is the crassest kind of 'Hollywood' plot twist possible. Also, the fact that we are led to believe that the sensitive English woman (Sonia) would go to the birthplace of her late mother with no real interest in her early life struck me as a false note.

However, despite these misgivings, and Hislop's writing style which I found bland, I'd probably recommend this novel for people who like social or historical dramas. Her imagining of the sufferings of a typical family during the Spanish Civil war is both moving and convincing. Also, the contrast between Spanish and English cultures is well-observed.

Overall then, a mixed bag, but ideal for those wanting to add to their historical knowledge in the form of an easily-digestible narrative.
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The Return
The Return by Victoria Hislop (Paperback - 16 April 2009)
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