By Victoria Hislop
The blurb from the publisher:
Sonia knows nothing of Granada’s shocking past, but ordering a simple cup of coffee in a quiet café will lead her into the extraordinary tale of a family’s fight to survive the horror of the Spanish Civil War.
Seventy years earlier, in the Ramírez family’s café, Concha and Pablo’s children relish an atmosphere of hope. Antonio is a serious young teacher, Ignacio a flamboyant matador, and Emilio a skilled musician. Their sister, Mercedes, is a spirited girl whose sole passion is dancing, until she meets Javier and an obsessive love affair begins. But Spain is a country in turmoil. In the heat of civil war, everyone must take a side and choose whether to submit, to fight, or to attempt escape.
The Short of It:
Passionate, lyrical and teeming with life…The Return is a love story like no other.
The Rest of It:
I fell in love with this book! I picked it up and had absolutely no idea what to expect when I opened its cover. What I found inside was a beautiful story about love and a heated battle to protect one’s country. This is a story within a story and alternates between Sonia’s story, which takes place in 2001 and the story of the Ramirez family that takes place between 1931-1936 and includes the Spanish Civil War.
The story opens with Sonia and her close friend Maggie’s trip to Granada. There, they enjoy the local color and Sonia realizes that her love of dancing is really a thirst that cannot be quenched. Sonia also realizes that her marriage is falling apart yet she isn’t quite ready to admit it. She wanders into a café and meets Miguel, a kind waiter that begins to tell her about Granada and the history of the Ramirez family. Upon her return home, Sonia enrolls in a dance class. A dance class that her husband James sees as an intrusion upon their marriage. He lets his relationship with a bottle dictate what happens next and before you know it, Sonia is headed back to Grenada to visit her friend Maggie who has decided to live there permanently.
Upon her return to Spain, Sonia’s love of dance continues to grow. The fiery passion of flamenco pulls her in and she gives into the rhythmic stomping of feet and the clapping of hands. As the music falls upon her, and her feet take over, she finds her true self and begins to truly appreciate the culture around her. As she sorts through her thoughts, she goes back to the café to see Miguel and to learn more about the Ramirez family. Miguel is a natural storyteller, and regales Sonia with the story of Mercedes and her family. What she discovers changes her life forever.
I highly recommend this book! Victoria Hislop takes a period of history that I knew very little about and creates a sweeping tale that’s left quite an impression on me. So much so, that I have been reading up on the Spanish Civil War. It’s THAT kind of book! Once it ends, you want the adventure to continue. This would make a wonderful book club selection and actually with Christmas around the corner a copy of this book along with a flamenco CD would be a great gift idea.
If you’d like to read more about Victoria Hislop, click here for her website.