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Posted July 9, 2013
Entrancing and evocative: If Barbara Taylor Bradford’s Woman of Substance were set it Spain at the time of the Civil War, its tale of rags to riches and poverty to power might read like Maria Duenas’ The Seamstress. But there’s far more to heroine Sira Quiroga than a head for money and a knack for creating beauty, and far more to this tale than first meets the eye.
Apprenticed to a dressmaker at age 12, Sira is the daughter of a single mother. She’s quick to learn and lives contentedly until a chance meeting turns her life upside down. Love, power and betrayal follow in quick succession, and soon Sira’s stranded alone in a foreign land. A keen sense of detail and well-honed powers of observation lead her to new friendships and alliances. The world spins from one war to the next, and Sira’s observations of politics and fashion lead in curious and surprising directions.
With a great protagonist, well-drawn history and evocatively exotic locations, author Maria Duenas cuts and shapes her scenes, sewing them together into a masterpiece of intrigue and romance that satisfies the reader on multiple levels—a thoroughly enjoyable novel.
Disclosure: My sister-in-law loaned me a copy of this novel.