by Maria Duenas
Aged 12, Sira Quiroga was apprenticed to a Madrid dressmaker. As she masters the seamstresses’s art, her life seems to be clearly mapped out – until she falls passionately in love and flees with her seductive lover. But in Morocco she is betrayed and left penniless. As Civil War engulfs Spain, Sira finds that she cannot return and so turns to her one true skill – and sews beautiful clothes for the expat elite and their German friends. With Europe rumbling towards war, Sira is lured back to Franco’s Nazi friendly Spain. She is drawn into the shadowy world of espionage, intrigue and betrayal.
Opinion was unanimous on five counts – the writing was naïve, the story was predictable, overlong, disjointed (could have been 2 separate stories) and totally implausible when Sira progressed without a qualm from seamstress to spy.
There were three plus points – it was clever the way the story interwove real characters with fictional ones, the historical research was detailed and enhanced the story, it was a page turner.
Mixed feelings, not one of our better reads. A few enjoyed it and would recommend it as an easy read. Most of us didn’t. The score was a 6.