The Fountains of Silenceby Ruta Sepetys, Richard Ferrone, Neil Hellegers, Joshua Kane, Liza Kaplan, Oliver Wyman, Full Cast, Maite Jáuregui Published 1 Oct 2019
|The Fountains of Silence.pdf|
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 guise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of a Texas 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 decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.
Master storyteller Ruta Sepetys once again shines light into one of history's darkest corners in this epic, heart-wrenching novel about identity, unforgettable love, repercussions of war, and the hidden violence of silence--inspired by the true post-war struggles of Spain.
"The Fountains of Silence" Reviews
Ruta Sepetys paints a richly descriptive and historically detailed picture of post war Spain under the fascist dictator, General Franco. It is 1957, and Spain is desperate for money and to facilitate this, is welcoming tourists to the country. 18 year old American Daniel Matheson is staying at a luxury hotel with his family, his father is an oil tycoon looking to make a deal with Franco's regime. Spain is the country of Daniel's mother, and he is looking to explore it, with every intent of looking beneath the official versions of Madrid. Whilst his father wants him to work for the business, Daniel has other ideas, he wants to be a photographer, and has made plans to study photography at college. Ana is the young, bright and beautiful hotel maid charged with looking after the Matheson family and meeting their every need. This is a well researched multilayered story of David and Ana, love, identity, heartbreak, and the walls of silence behind which are hidden the true horrors of Franco's Spain.
Rafa, Ana's brother remembers the family, and its tragic past, his parents opposition to Franco and their death. He works hard, although he still goes hungry, at his two jobs at the slaughterhouse and the graveyard, with his friend, Fuga, an intense force of nature, with dreams of becoming a famous bullfighter and protecting the children. Ana's cousin, Puri, works at the Catholic Adoption Centre. Ben is an American journalist who urges David to capture the Spain beyond the official version through the lens of his camera, deploying angles that tell the truth, the varied stories that lay beneath the surface. As David connects with an Ana with her dreams of travelling and escape, she begins to slowly entrust him with the inner secrets of a country where people live in fear and terror. However, she puts at risk her job, love and freedom, she has family responsibilities, a job that is essential in keeping her family going.
The stories of the host of characters interconnect to uncover Spain's secret history under Franco, and the fall out from the Spanish Civil War and its repercussions that continued into the 1950s. Sepetys writes with humanity and compassion about this dark historical period, the vast swathe of untold suffering, pain, despair and the tyranny of a repressive regime. This is brilliant immersive historical fiction of a brutal period of history that I have long been fascinated and interested by. This is for those who are interested in this period of Spanish history and those who enjoy well written and informative historical fiction. Highly recommended! Many thanks to Random House Children's for an ARC.
Congested, sacharrine, and melodramatic.
Do you realize the lengths I would go to for a copy of this book? I NEED THIS SO BADLY
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A while back, I read another book called Ruta Sepetys, called OUT OF THE EASY, a work of young adult historical fiction set in 1950s New Orleans. It had the potential to be an interesting book, but the lazy, meandering pace; lack of action; and reliance on an almost entirely character-driven story made for some tough readin'. I hoped that THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE, with its intriguing premise of characters struggling to exist under the militaristic dictatorship of Francisco Franco in Spain might be better. At the very least, it might be more action-packed.
I was wrong, on both counts.
The slow pacing and character-driven stories seem to be hallmarks of Ruta Sepetys's style, regardless of whether she's writing for an adult or a young adult audience. And even when writing about "edgy" content, like prostitution or stolen babies, her books have an overly clean, sanitized feel reminiscent of Amy Harmon's - only, she isn't the emotional storyteller that Harmon is. It's like these books were put in a juicer and everything pulpy and interesting was extracted, leaving only the inoffensive concentrate behind.
There are multiple POVs in this book - another literary technique I'm also not a fan of, which wasn't present in OUT OF THE EASY - which made this book hard to read. One of the advance readers I saw actually ended up not finishing this book because of that, and I'll be honest and admit that I considered doing the same because this book took so long to get into. Daniel is the main character, I would say, even though it takes a while to get to him. His mother is Spanish, but his father is a Texas oil baron, and he's in Spain because his dad's trying to secure a drilling deal with Franco. The other main character, the love interest, is a girl named Ana, who works in the high class hotel, the Castellana Hilton, at which Daniel and his family are staying.
Ana's family also gets POVs, primarily her brother, Rafa(el), who wants to be a bullfighter; her married sister, Julia, whose fear at challenging the system makes her more willing to play by the rules; and then Ana's cousin, Puri, who works at a Catholic adoption center with the nuns and is beginning to discover something sinister about the babies being brought into their charge. Their stories intertwine, sometimes in dull ways, sometimes in interesting ways, sometimes in irrelevant ways that feel like they're only there to bulk up the page count. Ana learns desire and rebellion; Daniel learns to confront his own privilege; there's a love story that bends and twists under pressure and strife, but doesn't break; all of this is happening under a fascist yoke, where the Guardia Civil are everywhere, and so are their plants, slowing down the inevitable influence of Western capitalism.
I ended up liking this a bit more at the end than I did at the beginning, and obviously, since I made it to the end of this nearly-500-page tome, I ended up feeling invested enough to finish. It was an OK story, but again - it felt sanitized. History is dirty and awful. I didn't really feel like the fear, paranoia, and persecution of the dictatorship was adequately captured here. Even when bad things do happen, they come across as understated. You, as the reader, are utterly numb to the stakes. It's the type of book you might encounter at a book club or bring with you on an airplane, only to leave it behind you on the seat once you've finished. I don't think this is a bad book, but it's definitely not what I want out of historical fiction, and it's cemented my suspicions that Ruta Sepetys is not an author for me.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!
2.5 to 3 stars
I'm not going to rate or review this. I've only liked one of the three Sepetys books I've read in the past, but I was really hoping a book on Spain under Franco would be the equalizer. It wasn't to be. I'm just not a fan of the way the author jumps very quickly between multiple POVs. I feel so detached from the stories. Just not for me.