Reviewed by Alisha Churbe

The Time In Between is a recollection told by Sira Quiroga that begins and ends in Madrid, Spain. Her fate and adventures take her on an expedition through war torn Europe during the late 1930s. World War II is very much in the works and the Spanish Civil War rolls on.

I never imagined a story of a dressmaker during war times could keep my attention. The Time In Between is loaded with political and historical details, but the story only rarely slows from it’s breathtaking pace. Some of the historical details tend to slow the story down and many could be cut a bit shorter, but don’t let that deter you. This novel will take you back in time and let you experience the tales of risks and survival. The countries Sira visits and resides in, along with the characters you meet are very real, and many of them will stay with you long after the end.

On the back cover of this edition, the book summary mentions that The Time In Between has, “the storytelling power of The Name of the Wind” (by Patrick Rothfuss). In the end, I would have to agree with this statement.

In the beginning, I was disappointed that The Time In Between was not told using the same narrative structure, but it is quite similar. The Time In Between is much more grounded in history than the fantastic world of The Name of the Wind. It is also important to note that while Sira experiences a lot, takes risks, and ends up in danger, her story is much more of a curve upward. The ending seems abrupt, but it’s perfect. It leaves so much left to know, to ponder (a sequel, perhaps?), but it really couldn’t have happened any other way or it could have felt contrived or implausible.

The Time In Between is a twist on the normal coming of age stories. In the beginning, Sira is young, a daughter of a single mother, working as an assistant to her mother and Dona Manuela, running errands and sweeping floors. Duenas moves quickly through this portion of Sira’s life and gets us to the moments that shape her fate and send Sira on her adventures. In the end, she’s evolved into a strong-willed, charming and, at moments, quite cunning woman.

We travel with Sira through tough times, happy moments, loneliness, and true bliss. She breaks out of the life that is laid out before her and fights (sometimes unwillingly) to create a life of her own. She grows from a confused teenager into a woman who knows what she wants and in many ways, how to obtain it. She takes extreme risks, and some moments of The Time In Between will have you hanging on every word. I enjoyed this novel and look forward to future offerings from Maria Duenas.

Rating: 4/5

Part-time fiction writer, Alisha Churbe lives in Portland, Oregon. In the rare instances when you can pry her away from books, Alisha can be found travelling in foreign countries, cooking, or hiking with her husband Michael and dog Euro.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Atria Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.