Read for 888 and 2007 Winter Reading Challenge
Harry, Bernie and Sandy were all at school together at Rockwood. For different reasons they are all in Madrid in 1940 at the end of the Spanish Civil War. Their lives become intertwinned again along with Sandy's girlfriend Barbara, who used to be Bernie's lover.
Sansom brings war torn Madrid alive with beautifully descriptive writing and details
"They rounded a little hill and suddenly they were facing a waste land of broken ground, dotted here and there with burnt-out tanks and broken rusty artillery pieces. nearby a brick wall, pitted with bullets, was all that was left of a building. Springy grass had grown back over most of the ground but shell craters filled with water dotted the landscape and long lines of trenches cut through the earth like open wounds."
I enjoyed the story very much, the different threads are woven together well to end in an exciting climax, which featured an unexpected twist. The sense of a country spilt in half is also well portrayed and I enjoyed seeing the workings of diplomacy, a mixture of threats and promises and lies.
The characters in the novel our interesting and all have their own problems and moral dilemmas. They are all shaped by their childhood experiences and are now all searching for something: love, acceptance, approval. While the characters interested me I never really felt a connection with any of them, if I had I think this book would have been even more enjoyable.