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107 of 111 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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89 of 92 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 Sept. 2009 by Mg Sj Shorthose


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107 of 111 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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89 of 92 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a review! A warning for potential purchasers, 18 Sept. 2009
By 
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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5 of 5 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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15 of 16 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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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)   
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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4 of 4 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 I can't make my mind up!!, 27 July 2008
By 
Andrea Mars (Leicestershire, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Return (Hardcover)
I finished this book reasonably quickly however it has really confused me. I found it difficult to put the book down but I am not sure i really enjoyed it. I loved "The Island" and couldn't wait for Victoria's next offering. They are beach books, be in no doubt about this. The Return focussed on the Spanish Civil War. And to be honest I am tended to agree with one of the oter reviews which basically promised a lot, building up the characters Merecdes and Javier to a potential "love story" but then not going anywhere with it. A story about Sonia and her trips to Granada which find her discovering a lot of information about her mother's past life (this was not a surprise when you got to it!).

There was a lot of narrative about the war itself and the journeys many characters went on, but it was all a bit samey. I wanted to carry on reading it as I wanted to know where it was going. I really only got there at the end. I ended up thinking that the book was a bit confusing and focussed to much on the war.

Overall a reasonable beach book but not fantastic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A dull emotionless tale, 18 April 2012
This review is from: The Return (Kindle Edition)
I agree with the other poor reviews. The link between the dull modern-day story and the civil war story is clumsy. The waiter who narrates the story of the war could not possibly be in possession of all the information/thoughts/emotions/motivations relating to all the disparate characters. Perhaps due to this narrative confusion, characters are suddenly aware of facts that they couldn't possibly know at the time. I found it all very frustrating.

The author has a very blase approach to the passing of time, whether it's a few hours or 50 years - and this rankles. We never quite know where we are. And too many times the reader is expected to believe the unbelievable. For example, Sonia is apparently unaware that her parents were keen dancers and that was how they met - despite dancing being her life's blood, her mother never once mentioned this to Sonia? Sonia at 34 is amazed to see photos of her mother in dancing gear. No, not buying that.

The behaviour of the characters throughout the civil war is puzzling - all of them make decisions that make no sense. It was as if the author decided she needed to have one person who was evacuated to the UK, one who went to France, one who went to prison etc. and constructed the story to meet those aims. Another reviewer said they didn't care about any of the characters and I agree - there was a strange lack of emotion throughout this book. This might be down to the uninspiring prose - never mind 'show don't tell' - Ms Hislop likes to show then tell then tell again in case you were too thick to get it the first time.

Probably the only character nicely drawn is Sonia's father. I didn't enjoy the nasty little vignettes of Sonia's husband and his family which reveal a nice little collection of prejudices - it seems Ms Hislop is not keen on the wealthy middle/upper classes, gardening or the countryside ('tyrannical vegetable garden, 'filthy old barbour', 'perhaps this froideur within marriage was completely normal in the shires'). Needless to say, Sonia's not-so-well-to-do Dad is a sweet old dear. I must admit, I'm not surprised Sonia's in-laws don't like her - she comes across as terminally dull.

I rarely abandon a book, so this was a case of flicking through the pages just wanting the whole thing to end. And the ending turns out to be very silly - ridiculously contrived as well as chronologically and logically improbable.

On the plus side, the book has aroused an interest in the Spanish Civil War. And since everyone liked The Island a lot more, I'll keep an eye out for that.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very well written, albeit a bit predictable..., 2 Jan. 2012
By 
Nicola F (Nic) (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Return (Paperback)
I read `The Island' by Victoria Hislop a while ago and really enjoyed it, so I had high hopes that this would be another satisfying read, despite the somewhat mixed reviews on here. I'm not going to summarise the plot as that has been done countless times already and I believe a spoiler-free review is always best! What I will say however is that this novel was an intriguing mix of history, politics, romance and Spanish culture and I found it a very interesting and worthwhile read. It was emotive in some places, tense in others and just a great first book for me to pick in 2012 as it held my attention all the way through.

The characters and settings are very well written, particularly Granada (past and present) and it is clear that the author has done a lot of comprehensive research into her subject matter. I am ashamed to say that prior to this novel I had very little knowledge of the Spanish civil war and this book has certainly opened my eyes as to the horrors that occurred. I have `Guernica' on my TBR pile and will be tackling that at some point soon now so this novel has certainly piqued my interest in that time period. The book also isn't completely dominated by grim subject matter either and is lifted by the fantastic descriptions of the flamenco dancing which actually really interested me.

What loses a star for me though is that the plot is indeed a bit predictable and regrettably, a bit contrived in places- it is also a bit slow to gather pace initially. You can also see the ending coming a mile off, unfortunately. Despite this though, I still enjoyed the novel and I am anticipating reading `The Thread' (Hislop's newest novel) with high expectations. Recommended if you enjoy contemporary fiction mixed with history and a dash of romance- this would make an excellent beach book.
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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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