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WeeRead: Review of The Time in Between by Maria Duenas

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Our book reviewer Jana shares her opinion of Maria Duenas's The Time In Between.

When I received The Time In Between by Maria Duenas, I was intrigued. When thinking of the years leading up to World War II, my mind goes to England, France, Germany, even Japan – but I rarely think of Spain. So I was excited to read a work of fiction set against the backdrop of pre-World War II Spain, especially a novel that promised espionage, adventure, and glamour.

My excitement dropped off considerably, however, after I’d spent a few hundred pages with the protagonist Sira Quiroga. For all the intrigue and adventure of Sira’s life, I did not find her a particularly strong or likeable heroine. Rather, I felt she was simply being dragged around Spain, Morocco, and Portugal by forces seemingly beyond her control. I did not find her believable as a spy, as all of her decisions and actions appear to have been dictated by an astonishing array of secondary characters (her mother, Ignacio, Ramiro, Commissioner Vasquez, Candelaria, Rosalinda, Hillgarth, Gonzalo, Marcus). I had the distinct impression that without these characters forcing Sira into action, she would have been dead or completely inconsequential after 200 pages.

But as these secondary characters kept Sira alive and active, they also kept me reading to the end of 600 pages, when at last Sira decides others will no longer dictate her life. Although there was much potential in a novel about a talented seamstress cum English spy, I don’t feel The Time In Between lived up to that potential.


Jana is a college English instructor and librarian who is currently enjoying maternity leave with her handsome little man, Reid.


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