Customer Review

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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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 12 Apr 2010 20:03:57 BDT
Last edited by the author on 12 Apr 2010 20:06:38 BDT
Anita King says:
Middle age?!?
They are about 32!!!
I have the habit of calculating characters ages as the information is slowly delivered.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 May 2010 10:49:39 BDT
I did say "approaching middle age".
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