Tag Archives: TLC Book Tours

Review & Book Tour: The Return

The Return

The Return
By Victoria Hislop
HarperCollins
October 2009
404pp

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.

Victoria Hislop

If you’d like to read more about Victoria Hislop, click here for her website.

TLC Book Tours

Check out Victoria’s other tour stops here.

A big ‘thank you’ to TLC Book Tours for asking me to be a part of this tour and HarperCollins for providing me with a review copy of the book.

Review & Book Tour: Goldengrove

Goldengrove
By Francine Prose
Pub. Date: September 2009
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Paperback, 275pp
ISBN-13: 9780060560027
ISBN: 0060560029

The blurb from the publisher:

At the center of Francine Prose’s profoundly moving new novel is a young girl facing the consequences of sudden loss after the death of her sister. As her parents drift toward their own risky consolations, thirteen-year-old Nico is left alone to grope toward understanding and clarity, falling into a seductive, dangerous relationship with her sister’s enigmatic boyfriend.

Over one haunted summer, Nico must face that life-changing moment when children realize their parents can no longer help them. She learns about the power of art, of time and place, the mystery of loss and recovery. But for all the darkness at the novel’s heart, the narrative itself is radiant with the lightness of summer and charged by the restless sexual tension of teenage life.

The Short of It:

An unsettling look at what happens to a family when a loved one is suddenly no more.

The Rest of It:

I’ve often wondered about death. Death that results from illness is quite different than a death that results from an accident or a sudden heart attack. In this novel, Margaret dies suddenly. Her family has no time to prepare themselves for the loss and for Nico, Margaret’s younger sister, it’s as if Margaret is there one minute and gone the next. How does a family deal with such a loss?

As Nico struggles with her grief, she realizes that Aaron, Margaret’s boyfriend is really the only person that understands what she is going through. They form an unlikely friendship which at times seems inappropriate but seeing what these two have been through, and what Margaret meant to them, all I saw were two people in a lot of pain trying desperately to overcome their grief.

Francine Prose does a remarkable job of describing what Nico is feeling and although Margaret was not on the page for long, you definitely get a feel for her personality as these characters look back on their moments with her. Many have said that Nico seems older than her thirteen years. This may be true, but to me she came across as an ‘old soul’ which made her relationship with Aaron a bit easier for me to understand.

As Prose takes us through the novel, Nico sees signs that Margaret is still with her. I’ve always been fascinated by signs. They function as a form of comfort and generally exist to help us through a crisis. Prose does a wonderful job of providing comfort to Nico in the way of signs and whether or not you believe they exist in real life doesn’t really matter, because they exist realistically within the novel.

I had one small quibble with Aaron. At the beginning of the novel, a comment is made which might lead the reader to think that all is not right with Aaron. As I was reading, I kept waiting for that secret to be revealed but in my opinion nothing was revealed. I felt that his actions were motivated by his loss so perhaps I missed something there.

This novel was a very quick read. Once I started it, I could not put it down. The prose was easy to follow and I cared about the characters and what they were going through. This was my first experience with Prose’s writing style but it definitely won’t be my last.

If you’d like to read more about Francine Prose, click here to read her bio.

Check out her Blog Talk Radio interview with Book Club Girl here.

To purchase the book, visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble or an independent bookseller of your choice.

Check out the rest of Francine’s tour stops here.

A big ‘thank you’ to TLC Book Tours for asking me to be a part of this tour.