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    Winter in Madrid (Paperback) By (author) C. J. Sansom

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    Description1940: The Spanish Civil War is over, and Madrid lies ruined, its people starving, while the Germans continue their relentless march through Europe. Britain now stands alone while General Franco considers whether to abandon neutrality and enter the war. Into this uncertain world comes Harry Brett: a traumatised veteran of Dunkirk turned reluctant spy for the British Secret Service. Sent to gain the confidence of old schoolfriend Sandy Forsyth, now a shady Madrid businessman, Harry finds himself involved in a dangerous game -- and surrounded by memories. Meanwhile Sandy's girlfriend, ex-Red Cross nurse Barbara Clare, is engaged on a secret mission of her own -- to find her former lover Bernie Piper, a passionate Communist in the International Brigades, who vanished on the bloody battlefields of the Jarama. In a vivid and haunting depiction of wartime Spain, Winter in Madrid is an intimate and compelling tale which offers a remarkable sense of history unfolding, and the profound impact of impossible choices. 'Sansom adroitly draws the disparate strands of his ambitious saga together. His non-pareil evocations of time and place anchor his characters with satisfying precision' Independent


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  • Disappointing. Don’t believe the gushing praise.3

    Brian Connor This book begins very promisingly: it captures the atmosphere & uncertainty of the era, as well as the personal & political development & equivocations of the protagonists, often expressed through well written period dialogue. The action soon moves to post civil war Madrid, & again the oppressive & corrupt atmosphere seems quite well conveyed.

    However as the story unfolds, I began to spot more & more errors of detail: places, names, customs, food; there are also some howlers in the Spanish. I fully accept that a historical novelist can take certain liberties - in this book there are just too many. No less irritating & obtrusive is the cod Hispano-English that Sansom has the Spanish characters speak sometimes.

    All of this is a real shame as it undermines the credibility of the extensive research the author has carried out (& is at pains to tell us about at the end of the book). Sansom thanks no fewer than thirteen people in the acknowledgements - did none of them spot any of this?

    If you know nothing at all about Spain some of this may not bother you, but many readers may find that the plot grinds on (for way too long), & share my disappointment at the excessive use of coincidence in the dénouement, as well as the way in which many of the secondary characters degenerate into cardboard cut-outs. After a good beginning, I really expected a lot better; still, I did finish it. by Brian Connor

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