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The Fountains of Silence (2019)

by Ruta Sepetys

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4352940,755 (4.16)9
At the Castellana Hilton in 1957 Madrid, eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson connects with Ana Moreno through photography and fate as Daniel discovers the incredibly dark side of the city under Generalissimo Franco's rule.



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Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
Ruta Sepetys' book Salt to the Sea is one of the best books I read last year, and it was a stomach-punch to the gut story. This is a totally different story, not in the quality of the writing, but in the setting. The story takes place in Franco's Spain, and show the difference in cultural standards between the politically active Spaniards who live in fear of the Franco regime, and the wealthy Americans that visit Spain on business trips. The main character of the story is a young man from Texas who is interested in being a journalistic photographer, and his conflict with his father who wants him to go into the family oil business. As a Texan, I found the story very relatable, and the characters are well developed. Although the romance between the a hotel maid and the young Texan don't work out, they find closure many years later when the Franco regime is over. ( )
  kerryp | Jul 4, 2020 |
Ruta Sepetys is a new author for me and I was drawn to ‘The Fountains of Silence’ because it is set in the Spanish Civil War. Only after finishing the book did I realise Sepetys is a Young Adult author though this does not mean she backed away from tackling difficult subjects or that the book lacks emotional depth. Basically, this is a tale of young love in politically sensitive times.
The story starts in 1957 when teenager Daniel Matheson arrives in Madrid, Spain, with his parents. Daniel, a talented photographer, wants to go to J-School to study as a photojournalist; his father wants him to work at the family oil company. Playing diplomat between them is Daniel’s mother, who was born in Spain. The family stays at the Castellana Hilton where they are assigned an assistant, Ana. While Daniel takes photos, his father tries to close an oil deal. Only when Daniel meets Ben Stahl from the Madrid bureau of the ‘New York Herald Tribune’, does he understand his father’s deal involves meetings with General Franco.
As Ana and Daniel grow closer, hiding their relationship and sneaking precious moments together, Sepetys shows the dark side of life under Spain’s dictator. Truths are hidden, atrocities are committed every day, desperate poverty is normal and people live under daily fear of the Guardia Civil, Franco’s police force. Ana’s cousin Pura, who works at the Inclusa orphanage, has a curious mind and is puzzled by some of the things she sees at the orphanage and its associated clinics and hospital. Ana’s brother Rafa and his friend Fuga work as gravediggers where they bury many tiny coffins. Then Fuga discovers that some of them are empty. There are many unanswered questions that are dangerous to investigate; Rafa and Fuga hope Daniel’s photographs will reveal the truth.
Fuga’s lifelong ambition is to be a bullfighter and, wearing a borrowed traje de luces [a suit of lights, worn by bullfighters in the ring], he gets his first chance. In exchange for driving Fuga to the location of the fight, Daniel takes photos. Fuga and Daniel make an uneasy truce.
I was left wanting to know more from certain characters; particularly Fuga, and Julia, Ana’s sister, so critical to the plot but whose voice is hardly heard. Although the viewpoint switches around often, the bulk of the narration is by Daniel. The cast list is long, too long perhaps, which adds to the slightly disjointed feeling of chunks of story remaining untold. Some of the language sounded contemporary rather than post-Civil War Spain – ‘father-son dynamic’ – but Sepetys weaves in Spanish phrases and this adds authenticity and worked well.
Septeys is skilled at describing 1957 Madrid, she creates a totally believable picture. If you know nothing about the Franco dictatorship, this book is a good place to start. I was left wanting to know more; perhaps this is the difference between a YA novel and one written for adults. But ‘The Fountains of Silence’ has made me curious to read more by Sepetys, particularly her WW2 books ‘Salt to the Sea’ and ‘Between Shades of Grey’.
Read more of my book reviews at http://www.sandradanby.com/book-reviews-a-z/ ( )
  Sandradan1 | Jul 2, 2020 |
This novel was a little tough for me to get into, but once I got the audiobook and could "read" while defrosting the fridge and dead-heading the geraniums, it grew on me.

My grandpa left Spain when he was a teenager in 1938, and after reading this novel, I have a better understanding of both his mixed feelings about Spain and his ambivalence about the Catholic church. I'm glad that I read it after visiting Spain so that I could picture some of the locations in Madrid as I was reading (although they were probably a bit different in the 1950's).

Things that weren't so good: The novel is YA, with the eye-roll-inducing romance to prove it, and the ending was just a little too much for me. And...149 chapters? Sepetys probably could have consolidated a bit. ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Jun 28, 2020 |
The problem with this book is the problem with all historical fiction of this type. If you know how history works, then you can guess what happens to the characters. ( )
  Wanda-Gambling | May 9, 2020 |
This novel explores history that is largely a mystery to me and some of its own themes help one to understand why that might be. Set in Spain in the 1950s, after the Spanish Civil War, while Francisco Franco governed the country, this novel centered around two young people from very different worlds who fall in love, but are kept separate by circumstances and secrets. Forced adoptions also feature in this novel - a sad piece of real history that is explored within the characters' families. This is a great book for learning a bit about Spanish history and offers a window into a topic I hope to learn about, through both fiction and nonfiction. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | May 5, 2020 |
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