Showing posts with label María Dueñas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label María Dueñas. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Time in Between by María Dueñas


Rating: WARTY!

This was a rather long and long-winded audiobook, set prior to and during World War Two. Zilah Mondoza's too youthful and rather pedantic reading certainly did not help matters. It was written by a Spanish author, and translated into English so I realize I'm getting this second-hand - even third-hand given that I'm listening to a Spanish language novel, translated into English, and then read by a Spanish speaker in English! LOL! In parts it was too tedious and I found myself wondering if the tedious parts were actually more interesting in the original Spanish, but I somehow doubted it!

The author can be way too wordy in her descriptions, going on too long and into far too much detail for some things, while completely glossing over others. I saw no method to this madness. It had enough quite interesting parts to keep me going to begin with, but even this soon felt like it was nowhere near enough. After a third of it, I gave up because I saw no sign of improvement. Even though I would have liked to have read the story which intrigued me, but it was way too flowery and too verbose for me to maintain interest.

This is one reason I tend to steer clear of really long audiobooks. For me this format is experimental - I will listen to something in audio that I probably would not touch were it in print or electronic form, so I don't want to get invested and then find out a quarter the way in that it's not to my taste. Shorter books tend to get to the point faster, so it's easier to see if it's going to appeal to me, whereas with a longer audiobook, a quarter the way through can be the full length of a shorter book! In print, this particular novel would be some 600 pages long, which is twice as long as I normally feel happy with. It probably could have been 200 pages shorter had the author not been quite so prolix.

The main character is Sira Quiroga. She grows up learning to sew alongside her mother and other women, as such women traditionally did back then. Sira is good at it, which comes in useful later. Immediately before the Spanish Civil War, she becomes engaged to a man named Ignacio who has a secure job as a civil servant. Secure, that is, until the war begins, no doubt. When she meets the more dashing Ramiro Arribas, she foolishly ditches Ignacio. This made me dislike her, but she pays the price for this inconstancy.

She and Arribas move to Spanish Morocco. Why wasn't exactly clear to me: perhaps they left simply to avoid the civil war, but why go to Morocco? Who knows? Her beau is a con-man, who robs her of her entire dowry, which her estranged father had unexpectedly bestowed upon her not long before.

Sira is left with a debt of 3,000 pesetas for hotel accommodations, and is arrested, but a kindly police officer sets her up with cheap lodgings so she can pay back what she owes. She has a year to do this, but is struggling to make ends meet by taking in a few sewing jobs. Her landlady, with the exotic name of Candelaria (it means Candlemas), has in the meantime discovered a cache of guns left by a previous tenant who never returned to retrieve them. Her plan is to turn the cache into cash; then she and Sira will go fifty-fifty in a dressmaking shop, Candelaria fronting the money and Sira doing the work.

One big problem came in the telling of her night-time journey to deliver the guns. That hsould have been exciting, right? it wasn't! It was boringly full of extraneous detail. It's not that the story overall was uninteresting, it's just that the interesting parts were so diluted with over-done prose, that it took far too long for anything to happen. This gun delivery should be a fraught and exciting event, but it's made to sound mundane and monontonous because the author so long to tell it. There are many other such instances - situations not quite as potentially dangerous as this one was, but this only means the descriptive prose is that much less acceptable elsehwere.

After a third of the book I gave up on it and I cannot recommend this.