Winter in MadridPaperback Pan Books
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- Publisher: Pan Books
- Format: Paperback | 560 pages
- Dimensions: 130mm x 196mm x 38mm | 400g
- Publication date: 6 October 2006
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 0330411985
- ISBN 13: 9780330411981
- Edition: Unabridged
- Edition statement: Unabridged
- Sales rank: 9,683
1940: 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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C. J. Sansom was educated at Birmingham University, where he took a BA and then a Ph.D. in history. After working in a variety of jobs, he retrained as a solicitor and practised in Sussex, until becoming a full-time writer. He has written two novels in his historical crime series featuring lawyer, Matthew Shardlake. Winter in Madrid is his third novel. He lives in Sussex.
By Brian Connor 28 Jul 2010
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.
"It comes as no surprise to learn that Sansom's novel spent month after month on London's bestseller lists."-"The Philadelphia Inquirer" "There are touches of Graham Greene; Hemingway's here, too. . . . But Sansom transfigures his sources into a moral universe very much his own." -"The Independent" (U.K.) "Sansom [proves] real noir is best when lit with flashes of wit." -"Publishers Weekly" "Sansom can lay claim to a place among the best distinguished of modern historical novelists."-P. D. James