A review by bklassen
The Time in Between by María Dueñas

emotional hopeful mysterious reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


I told my friend that this book feels a lot like a character study of a single person’s life, except that I wouldn’t say Sira Quiroga had THE strongest personality I’ve ever read. Sure, you get some qualities and personality from the writing, but the book takes a bit more of a distant, almost bird’s eye view for the most part. It’s more like if that bird is flying fairly close and just following one person, if that metaphor makes sense. 

The back of the book describes Sira’s life from poor seamstress in Madrid to jilted and broke lover in Morocco, then to accomplished seamstress and spy in Madrid again. If you hoped for a fast-paced spy story, this is certainly not it. The book is more content to move at its own pace and examine events as they happen with small moments of excitement. I think the spy stuff doesn’t even enter the scene until at least 50% or even 66% of the book. 

I liked that Sira was resilient and gained skills that served her later in life, even if her character development doesn’t feel quite as strong as other books I’ve read. Sure, she gains skills and learns lessons, but it almost feels matter-of-fact, rather than the whole point of the story. 

If anything, I’d say that the author really did her research into World War II in Madrid, how Spanish politics were affected and affected the landscape around them, and the history of the country during that time. I can’t say for certain that the fashion or sewing aspects were right on, but they seemed right to me! I have very little sewing experience, however. 

The closest book in terms of themes and writing style would be A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – slower paced, follows one character during revolution and great change over the course of years, and really pays attention to the political landscape of the country during a period of unrest.