Ready … get set …. read!
Now I’ve recovered from the marathon that was Julia Navarro’s Dime quien soy, and after a couple of months devoted largely to trashy Edwardian fiction, I’m finally ready to begin the next Project Bestseller marathon read. As promised, my next big Spanish bestseller is María Dueñas’s El tiempo entre costuras (The Time Between Seams).
Since the first edition in June 2009, Dueñas’s novel has barely been out of the bestseller lists. Even in Que Leer’s February 2011 list (the most recent available online at the time of writing), it’s at no. 5 on the overall chart, and no. 3 on the fiction chart, after Javier Sierra’s enthusiastically-promoted El angel perdido (The lost angel, which saw Sierra embark on Spain’s biggest-ever promotional tour) and Federico Moccia’s slightly ickily-promoted Carolina se enamora (Caroline falls in love; original Italian title Amore 14).
Dueñas has been a Professor of English at the Universidad de Murcia in south-east Spain for almost 20 years, which makes her something of a poster-girl for mid-career academic reinvention. In June 2010, she was given two years’ leave to start writing her next novel, which she’s apparently doing at a university in the US. Conveniently, this means she should be on the spot when the English translation appears later this year, as The Time in Between (Simon & Schuster, 8 Nov 2011). Frustratingly, there is no information on the publisher webpage about the translator of the novel, which seems something of a professional diss to whoever’s currently working on it.
And what of the novel itself? I’m only about 50 pages in so far (out of 638), but already I can see that this is going to be a good read. It all begins in 1920s and 1930s Madrid, as the young seamstress Sira Quiroga relates her early life with her single mother, and her meeting with the man who is going to change her life. So far, so formulaic – but the level of writing, the tautness of description, and Sira’s own very likeable narrative voice gives the novel a liveliness and energy which, if it’s sustained, will make this a lively canter rather than a sweaty slog (/marathon metaphors).
Have you read the novel? What did you think of it? And why do you think that of all the historical-memory-civil-war novels currently flooding the Spanish market, it’s this one that has captured Spanish readers’ attention so completely?