I just adore Ruta Sepetys’ writing, having savoured both Between Shades of Gray and Salt to the Sea, I didn’t have much doubt that I wouldn’t love her newest release, The Fountains of Silence. It’s safe to say I was not disappointed.
Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming promise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of an oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother’s birth through the lens of his camera. Photography–and fate–introduce him to Ana, whose family’s interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War–as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel’s photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of difficult decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.
Personally, I didn’t know much about the Spanish Civil War, nor General Franco and his resulting rule over Spain, but that did not detract from my overall enjoyment of the book at all – in face it made me want to research about it and find out more than the book gave light to, once I had finished.
I found myself immediately immersed in 1950’s Madrid, the author has such a way with words, she’s uses such beatifully descriptive language that completely manages to transport you. I just fell into the setting; I could practically feel the heat of Madrid bearing down on me. I fell for the Moreno family and wanted so desperately for them to succeed. I could imagine myself in the hotel with Daniel and Ben, the glitz and the glamour and the cigarette smoke.
Our main leads Daniel and Ana were likeable from the get go, I was almost instantly invested in them, and rooted for them both until the end.
Ana was such a strong and intriguing lead, she peaked my interest from our first introduction and the chapters in her POV were my favourite. She independent and fun and fiesty, but has such a deep-rooted love for her family. And their family unit, the Moreno’s were far and away my favourite aspect of the book. The way they all looked out for and after each other made for such a heart-wrenching read, that no matter their situation they have each other. It was truly beautiful.
And a special mention has to go out to Rafa, the soul and the joker whose faith and commitment to Fuga, his brother-in-arms, is almost breath-taking and quite simply, I just love their wholesome friendship, borne from such hardships they had to endure.
And Daniel, the other half of our starring two, and I actually really liked him, his naivety wasn’t wearisome, and he was always trying his best, evne if sometimes it didn’t have the best outcomes – but he wasn’t grating or annoying, which was refreshing! He was genuine and a real southern gentleman.
Whilst in a classic case of teenage romance, I wanted to bash their heads together at times and force them to communicate, i actually found myself appreciating the way the stroy unfolded. Sure, at time I found it all slot into place, a little too well, but that was only a minor issue in the grand scheme of things.
Other than that, there was really nothing else for me to negatively criticise, I just really really fell in love with this book, can you tell?
“Truth breaks the chains of silence.” Puri puts a trembling hand to her chest. Her voice drops to a whisper.
“It sets us all free.”
The use of historical texts pulled from archives to seperate important POV’s, I found real shed some insight to the political stance of Spain and of America in regards to Spain, it was a real eye-opener to the situation and the politically charged atmosphere surrounding Spain at the time. It was a shuddering juxtapostioning of reality at that time in Spain.
Some of the themes within this novel are strong and really unexpected when you were as uneducated about what was happening within Spain at this time as I am, and my jaw was genuinely on the floor at some parts.
Overall, this book is definitely one you should dive into for fans of a slow-burn romance or historical fiction. I thoroughly recommend you read this and all of Ruta Sepetys’ other work, as they are all magnificent.
Have you read The Fountains of Silence or another work by Sepetys? What are your thoughts?