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El tiempo entre costuras, Maria Dueñas

This novel is such a gem. I read it within a week, and trust me, it’s not short! But I had already seen the TV series and given how good the show is, I knew the book had to be even better. And it was.

This novel has everything: drama, love, war, espionage, and betrayal. It takes place in Spain, Morocco, and Portugal. Written by the famous María Dueñas, this tells the tale of Sira Quiroga, a seamstress who grew up in Madrid. The story starts at the precipice of the Civil War and ends during World War Two. We witness Sira as she navigates the waters of many tragedies during a short period of time. But time and time again, we learn how strong Sira truly is, and how she overcomes every obstacle in her way.

The title refers to her upbringing and not only how it sustains her mother and her as a child, but as an adult. In fact, although the translation in English is “The Time in Between”, it actually means “the time in between stitches”. This best exemplifies the plot and the one thing that holds Sira together: sewing. As she starts her new life in Morocco, she opens a very chic atelier and meets many high-end women, many of whom are married to very important men. Her life changes forever, both for the better and the worse. While she meets many good friends, the political situation that surrounds her is in constant peril. The Spanish Civil War was only just the beginning: then Franco takes over as dictator and allied himself with the Nazis. During these 600+ pages, we learn what it’s like to have lived during this difficult time and the hardships that many people have faced.

Although 624 pages seem long, it flies by. It goes into depth in the beginning about Sira’s upbringing and her time in Spain before the war breaks out, something that the TV series covers in one episode. The series, which I reviewed in an earlier post, is two seasons long and follows the book quite well, without any major alterations. I suggest reading the book first and then watching the series. I, unfortunately, watched the series before I read the book, but after having read this brilliant story, I rewatched the show and appreciated it on a much deeper level. This is one of my favorite novels and is available in both Spanish and English!


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