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Time in Between (Duenas)

The Time in Between
Maria Duenas, 2011
Atrias Books
624 pp.
ISBN-13: 9781451616880


Summary
The inspiring international bestseller of a seemingly ordinary woman who uses her talent and courage to transform herself first into a prestigious couturier and then into an undercover agent for the Allies during World War II

Between Youth and Adulthood . . . At age twelve, Sira Quiroga sweeps the atelier floors where her single mother works as a seamstress. At fourteen, she quietly begins her own apprenticeship. By her early twenties she has learned the ropes of the business and is engaged to a modest government clerk. But everything changes when two charismatic men burst unexpectedly into her neatly mapped-out life: an attractive salesman and the father she never knew.

Between War and Peace . . . With the Spanish Civil War brewing in Madrid, Sira leaves her mother and her fiancé, impetuously following her handsome lover to Morocco. However, she soon finds herself abandoned, penniless, and heartbroken in an exotic land. Among the odd collection of European expatriates trapped there by the worsening political situation back on the Continent, Sira reinvents herself by turning to the one skill that can save her: her gift for creating beautiful clothes.

Between Love and Duty . . . As England, Germany, and the other great powers launch into the dire conflict of World War II, Sira is persuaded to return to Madrid, where she takes on a new identity to embark upon the most dangerous undertaking of her career. As the preeminent couturier for an eager clientele of Nazi officers’ wives, Sira becomes embroiled in the half-lit world of espionage and political conspiracy rife with love, intrigue, and betrayal.

Already a runaway bestseller across Europe, The Time In Between is one of those rare, richly textured novels that enthrall down to the last page. María Dueñas reminds us how it feels to be swept away by a masterful storyteller.  (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
Maria Duenas holds a PhD in English Philology and is currently a professor at the University of Murcia. She has also taught at American universities, is the author of several academic articles, and has participated in various educational, cultural, and editorial projects.  (From the publisher .)



Book Reviews
A literary cocktail that mixes adventure, espionage, glamour, aristocracy, and passion.
La Vanguardia (Spain)

A tale of frustrated dreams and dreams come true, embodying all the perverse charm of what time, implacably, has swept away.... Don’t pass it by.
El Mundo (Spain)


From a terrific opening line to the final page, chapters zip by at a pulsing pace
USA Today


It is no surprise this debut novel was a runaway success in Europe. American fans of historical fiction looking for a dramatic, uncomplicated escape will be similarly entranced.
Library Journal


Packed with engaging characters, flawlessly researched, and breathlessly paced.
Booklist


"You wore blue. The Germans wore gray." So quoth Humphrey Bogart's character in Casablanca, the tutelary spirit behind bestselling Spanish debut novelist Duenas' high-minded historical soap.... Middlebrow and breezy. A perfect beach read, if a touch off-season, unless you're headed for Casablanca and its waters.
Kirkus Reviews




Discussion Questions
1. The first sentence of the book, "A typewriter shattered my destiny" is an example of the author's use of foreshadowing of future events. Were you immediately drawn into the story? Were you curious to know whose destiny was shattered and why?

2. What's Sira's relationship with her mother like at the outset of The Time in Between? In what ways does it change throughout the course of the story? Do you think that Sira becomes engaged because she's really in love, or because of pressure from her mother? And, is it her humble beginnings, naivetÉ, or something more that lures Sira into an affair with Ramiro? Can you think of other protagonists who were led astray by a charming older man?

3. Discuss what role heartbreak plays in The Time in Between. How does it change Sira? Do you think it ultimately makes her stronger? Why or why not?

4. Sira is a couture designer who was born on June 8, 1911. The story ends in the early 1940s. Discuss how the world of fashion and Sira changed with the political situation of the time (see pgs.7, 143, 155).

5. What do you think of Candelaria and Dolores? How did each of these women influence Sira's life and future choices?

6. Discuss the characters that Sira encounters in Candeleria's boarding house. What do you think of their interactions over the supper table? Does your opinion of Candelaria change throughout the novel? If so, why?

7. Who is Commissioner Claudio Vazquez? Was he friend, foe, or both to Sira?

8. How did the author give us insight into the political situation in Madrid and Morocco during the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s and early World War II?

9. Felix is Sira's Pygmalion. How did their unlikely friendship benefit each of them?

10. Discuss the many ways Sira re-invented herself. How was Sira Quiroga different from Arish Agoriuq?

11. Rosalinda Fox says to Sira on page 197, "Sometimes luck decides to make our decisions for us, no? Asi es la vida. That's life, no?" Do you agree with that statement? Discuss how luck may have played a role in each of their lives.

12. How would you characterize Rosalind Fox? Does knowing that she's real affect your reading of her? How realistic does she seem to you?

13. Why is Sira so reticent about Marcus? What did you think about the revelations they each made about the other at the end?

14. Sira does extraordinary things throughout The Time in Between. Does this make her a heroine? Or, is she simply acting based on circumstances?

15. Like Sira, many of the other characters in The Time in Between take risks, particularly because of the wars. Which ones did you think were the most dangerous? Why? What do you think the title of the book signifies?

16. How would you cast the movie version of The Time in Between? Who would play the role of Sira? Marcus Logan? Ramiro Arribas?

17. Maria Duenas is an academic. Does knowing this influence your reading of the story? If so, in what ways?


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