New Book – The Return by Victoria Hislop


Publishing year: 2008

The book starts in Granada in 1937 and then it jumps in time to 2001.

I’m always a bit suspicious of non-Spanish books that are set in Spain. They are always focused on all the folklore and in most cases stereotypes are emphasized. In this book the beginning is like that. The main characters are two British women who are in Granada, and the first scene takes place in a cave in Sacromonte where they see a flamenco show. I know that flamenco is featured in this area to attract tourists, and I do believe that flamenco is part of our culture. Yet, what foreign authors fail to realize is that flamenco, or rather pure flamenco, is in most cases just for a selected group of people, meaning that not everybody likes flamenco. Actually, I am not too enthusiastic about flamenco; I like some light flamenco, but not everything. I also don’t like that in books Spanish people are all black-haired and black-eyed. That’s not true. There are many people who have dark haired, but in most cases it is dark brown, and there are many people who have black eyes, but that’s not the entire population. In any case, what I don’t like is the portrayal of Spanish society as stuck in the past. Despite the problems that the country has, I think our society is modern and our life doesn’t revolve around flamenco or bullfighting as some foreign authors tend to think.

In any case, I think the beginning of the book is interesting. In 1937 we are introduced to a young woman called Mercedes  🙂 and she is questioned by somebody called Antonio about some shoes she has. I didn’t really grasp what was happening there. In 2001, as I’ve mentioned before, we are introduced to Sonia and Maggie who are in Granada, apparently, on holiday. We get to know Sonia better. Sonia is married to James, a banker who is over ten years her senior. There are some problems in the marriage; she mentions something about drinking, but we are not shown what she means. And in her thoughts Sonia recalls the way she started dancing salsa in a club she went past on her way to the cinema. It seems that her stay in Granada has something to do with dance.

I’m not sure what the book is about yet. I wonder what Sonia and Maggie will be doing in Granada, and how the first part in 1937 will link to the present time in 2001.


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