“Each word held its magic. They were like brushstrokes painting the landscape of the city, each one helping to build up a picture of the whole.”
Personally I`m quite interested in recent history and especially the Spanish Civil War. (My thesis on philology was about poems after this same civil war). I like the balance between present and past in The Return. The way Victoria Hislop uses the characters to describe the feelings of different parts of the society in those days of chaos is inspiring. Besides being a historical fiction novel, it’s also the story about a lost woman in search of herself and her past… The scenes set in the present didn’t impress me as much as those set in the past, but I would still recommend reading this story with its diverse storylines. If you enjoy reading historical fiction and don’t mind a few cliche romance scenes, you surely will be moved.
The Return explains the tragedies of the Spanish Civil War experienced all over Spain through the Ramirez family, who live in Granada. The Ramirez couple has four children: Antonio, a young teacher with a passion for left-wing politics; Ignacio, an arrogant matador with right-wing views and no problems betraying his own family; Emilio, a shy young man and skilled musician; and last their sister, Mercedes, whose sole passion is flamenco dancing. The story is told mainly by the old owner of the Ramirez bar, Miguel. An unknowing English tourist enters the bar to drink some coffee on vacation and that’s where it all starts. Sonia, whose mother has Spanish roots, becomes fascinated by the old flamenco photos, and Miguel starts telling the Ramirez story. A history full of tragedy, hope, love and loss… And a story that will end up changing Sonia’s life.
Victoria Hislop is able to show different aspects of the Civil War terror through the lifes of the four Ramirez children. Especially the scenes set in the past were really strong and truly showed the despair felt by many families during the Spanish Civil War. Some of the scenes set in the present were a bit cliche and had too much romance for my taste, but then again I’m not a big fan of the romance genre… Still, The Return is without doubt an interesting read for historical fiction fans and those who want to read more about the Spanish Civil War.