Monday, October 19, 2009

Mrs. Scribe Reviews: The Return


I've long been a fan of historical fiction. But the twist, for me, has always meant that the history had to be of the ethnic variety. In the Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez, is one of my favorites. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway, does not ring my chimes one bit.

Hence, I approached The Return, by Victoria Hislop, with no small amount of trepidation. I must say, however, that I was pleasantly surprised. Although the initial premise is a tad shaky, Hislop ends up manipulating her story successfully amid the backdrop of the gruesome Spanish Civil War and, I'm pleased to report, she pulls it off.

The interwoven stories of the British PR exec Sonia, who travels to Granada, Spain, to discover herself in the traditions of the area, and the Ramirez family, who lived through the tragedies of the war, speak of politics, kin and the reasons these themes often suffer a fragile coexistence.

Although I'm not a student of Spanish history, Hislop's research, and most of her story, ring true to me. Take one part romance, two parts conflict, and set the tale between generations in the shadow of the Alhambra, Granada's Moorish cornerstone, and you have The Return, quite a viable read.

The story, especially once it jumps to the tale of La Familia Ramirez, is both believable and beautiful. I found myself immersed both in the literal, bloody conflict and the main characters' emotional upheavals.

The Return is Hislop's second foray into the publishing world. Now I'm looking forward to checking out The Island, her freshman effort. That 2007 novel, set in Crete, became an international bestseller. After reading The Return, it's not difficult to understand why.

Editor's Note: Mrs. Scribe reviewed The Return at the behest of TLC Book Tours. While she received a gratis copy of the novel, her opinions are her own.

14 comments:

quilly said...

Oh! I love learning about other cultures and histories while enjoying a good story. This sounds promising.

Tammy Howard said...

This sounds like a good one to add to my list...

Amy said...

The book sounds okay, but I'm fascinated by the group you're reviewing for. How'd you get involved in this?

blueviolet said...

Reading historical fiction is pretty new to me but so far what I've read, I've enjoyed. I will look for the first one and then follow with this one. Thanks for the review!

Cairo Typ0 said...

Thanks for the review. I love historical fiction and thanks to your review will put this one on my download list. :)

Susan Berlien (warmchocmilk) said...

Historical fiction....hmm. I have a hard time understanding whati s true and what not. I wonder if it really matters, if the story is good...then it's enjoyable, right?

Shraddha@theselfloveproject said...

very interesting!!

i will definitely have a look!

trish said...

One thing I love about historical fiction is that it makes history interesting! (the big details at least...obviously you don't read fiction for the facts :) It sounds like the author really brings things to life.

Thanks for being on this tour! You write fantastic reviews that really get me thinking.

The Blonde Duck said...

How curious! I'll check it out!

Dr.John said...

Not my kind of book but still sounds like a good read.

Miss Jo said...

Sounds like a good read. I'll check it out of the library ! Thanks for the excelente review.

Caution Flag said...

I can't wait to read it! I'm so glad I found your blog :)))

mama-face said...

Great, another book for my TBR pile. So many books, so little time.

But seriously, thank you. I'm curious, do you ever 'rate' a book, i.e., a must read, etc? Just wondering.

Meg said...

I'm right there with you! I was totally absorbed in both the emotional and historical aspects of the work. Definitely found The Return engrossing and interesting... great review!

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