Thursday, 11 August 2011

The Return by Victoria Hislop

What I liked about this book was the fact that the reader starts the novel thinking they're reading an archetypal modern tale of a woman in an unhappy marriage going to a foreign country to find herself and then they're hit right in the face by something completely different...
Two parallel stories run through the novel: a love story plays out against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, the outcome of which has reprecussions for Sonia, a disaffected thirty-something living in modern day London. Sonia first comes to Granada, Spain for a salsa dance holiday and for a break from her cold and selfish husband but finds more than she ever bargained for.

The Return is poignant, heartbreaking but ultimately hopeful as Spain comes to terms with its turbulent past. I particularly loved how Hislop contrasts the spirit of flamenco and family with the brutality and confusion of war. It combines two things I look for in a novel: thought-provoking and unputdownable and in addition, fuels my passion for all things Spanish!

Read it if you like a bit of grittiness with your contemporary women's fiction.