The Return

The Return

by Victoria Hislop

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061715419
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/06/2009
Pages: 404
Sales rank: 265,362
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Victoria Hislop is the internationally bestselling author of The Island and The Return. She writes travel features for the Sunday Telegraph, Mail on Sunday, House & Garden, and Woman & Home. She divides her time among rural Kent, London, and Crete. She is married and has two children.

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The Return 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
TiBookChatter More than 1 year ago
I fell in love with this book! I picked it up and had absolutely no idea what to expect when I opened its cover. What I found inside was a beautiful story about love and a heated battle to protect one's country. This is a story within a story and alternates between Sonia's story, which takes place in 2001 and the story of the Ramirez family that takes place between 1931-1936 and includes the Spanish Civil War. The story opens with Sonia and her close friend Maggie's trip to Granada. There, they enjoy the local color and Sonia realizes that her love of dancing is really a thirst that cannot be quenched. Sonia also realizes that her marriage is falling apart yet she isn't quite ready to admit it. She wanders into a café and meets Miguel, a kind waiter that begins to tell her about Granada and the history of the Ramirez family. Upon her return home, Sonia enrolls in a dance class. A dance class that her husband James sees as an intrusion upon their marriage. He lets his relationship with a bottle dictate what happens next and before you know it, Sonia is headed back to Grenada to visit her friend Maggie who has decided to live there permanently. Upon her return to Spain, Sonia's love of dance continues to grow. The fiery passion of flamenco pulls her in and she gives into the rhythmic stomping of feet and the clapping of hands. As the music falls upon her, and her feet take over, she finds her true self and begins to truly appreciate the culture around her. As she sorts through her thoughts, she goes back to the café to see Miguel and to learn more about the Ramirez family. Miguel is a natural storyteller, and regales Sonia with the story of Mercedes and her family. What she discovers changes her life forever. I highly recommend this book! Victoria Hislop takes a period of history that I knew very little about and creates a sweeping tale that's left quite an impression on me. So much so, that I have been reading up on the Spanish Civil War. It's THAT kind of book! Once it ends, you want the adventure to continue.
SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
The Return is a beautiful novel of the Spanish Civil War, infused with dance and relationships, the sound of castanets and guitar contrasted with gunfire and screams. As with her previous novel, The Island, Victoria Hislop surrounds the story with a tale of modern womanhood in search of identity. This time a woman is questioning her marriage, finding unexpected solace in dance classes, and wondering at the incongruity of an independent woman enjoying the apparent subservience of being "led" around the dance-floor. Visiting Spain with a childhood friend, Sonia Cameron is drawn to a small café where she meets and befriends the elderly Miguel. Photos of dancers and bullfighters on the walls intrigue her and she strikes up a conversation that will haunt her on returning to England and swiftly draw her back. Miguel, who lived through the horrors of civil war, reveals the stories behind the pictures and the café's former owners; meanwhile Sonia learns the truth behind the dance, that both will lead and both follow, and that strength can be the quietest gift. I knew little of the Spanish Civil War before reading this book. The author again delves into well-researched history, just as she did with The Island, and the story is told through a mix of historical and closely personal viewpoints, full of detailed facts and human pain and joy. A family grows up; siblings leave the nest; politics and war leave their deep wounds, and a world is changed. Somehow I'd failed to notice how closely the Second World War followed on the events in Spain, or how they were connected. I hadn't realized how closely the Catholic Church became involved. I hadn't even considered which side was which. The novel reveals the history and background, infusing it with human interest and drawing the reader in to care for the family's tragedies. But the greatest scenes, for me, are the dance and the lingering touch of dance on relationships; the longing to dance, the emotion of dance, the truths that dance expresses that don't need words. I enjoyed this book better than The Island, I think because the history and point-of-view changes felt more natural. But both are fascinating and inspiring reads, not just for history, but also for a woman's touch and the truth of identity. A long, involving novel, The Return is definitely recommended. Disclosure: I borrowed this book from a friend of my mother.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My family is from Spain and I have often looked for a book that outlined the events of the Spanish Civil War. The characters are rich and the writing beautiful. It captures the spirit of a nation. I have shared it with my entire family and they thoroughly enjoyed it. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a touching, vibrant historical fiction novel.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Her marriage to a much older Englishman is tedious so Sonia and her best friend Maggie take dancing lessons. When she sees pictures of her mom, Sonia decides to learn more about her maternal heritage in Spain. She and Maggie fly to Grenada for flamenco lessons to escape from the monotony and find the former's roots. At a café, the owner tells Sonia about his family in the 1930s. Concha and Pablo Ramirez raised four children while running a café in town. Antonio is a teacher; Ignacio is a matador; Emilio is managing the café; and their only daughter Mercedes is a flamenco dancer, who loves guitarist Javier Montero. Life is good for the Ramirez brood until the Spanish Civil War erupts. This is a super look at Spain that fascinatingly uses the impact of the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s that killed a half million people in three years on yet unique aspects of the culture survive such as a love of dance and the risk of bull-fighting. Readers will appreciate this tour hosted by the Ramirez family as Sonia finds her maternal roots and much more; symbolized by seven decades old dancing shoes. Harriet Klausner
carioca on LibraryThing 28 days ago
I liked this book, I thought it was interesting, well written and engaging. I have not read the author's previous book but will do so as soon as a I get a copy!
Suuze on LibraryThing 28 days ago
Knowing very little about the Spanish Civil War, I had a lot of interest in reading this book. I was a little disappointed in the presentation of the historical aspect of the story, as I felt it went into too much detail about each battle. I actually skimmed over some of the descriptions. I like being educated while reading a book, but became a bit bored at some points. I loved the descriptions of flamenco and the guitar performances - entrancing! I now want to go to Spain to see the flamenco in person. The author dida wonderful job describing the passions and emotions involved in the dance.I did enjoy this book very much, though I wish the entire story had been set in Spain during the period of the Civil War. I didn't feel as if the present day characters added anything, and in my opinion, were a distraction.I'd recommend this book to friends and family.
DevourerOfBooks on LibraryThing 28 days ago
Sonia is looking to get away for a bit from her less than happy marriage and travels with her friend Maggie to Spain. They go to take dance lessons, but in a cafe one morning, Sonia finds more. She knows her mother was Spanish but never returned after the Civil War, but she knows no more than that, either about her family's history or about the history of the Spanish Civil War. Befriending Miguel, the owner of the small cafe, Sonia begins to learn the story of the family who once owned it, before and during the ravages of the Civil War.The Ramirez family was a fairly liberal family in conservative Granada, which did not bode well for the when the fascists wrenched control from the government, particularly as Granada fell rather early in the conflict. Mercedes Ramirez was the heart of Miguel's story and, as the youngest and the only girl, the heart of the Ramirez family. She is a remarkable flamenco dancer and soon falls in love with Javier, an equally remarkable guitar player, for whom she dances.Honestly, I found the arc of the story to be a bit predictable - the family's story, that is, and how everything fit together, not the outcome of the war, that would be a silly thing to complain about. I knew the connections that would be made far before the end of the story. I also had a very hard time getting into the book at the beginning. Sonia's trip to Spain didn't really capture my imagination, nor did some of the early descriptions of the family's life before the war began. All that being said, once the war started, the story really gained momentum. I became enamored of Mercedes' story, as well as those of her mother and brother and didn't want to put the book down. The writing and language was quite good throughout, I just wasn't drawn into the plot or invested in the characters very quickly. Once I was, though, I quite enjoyed the story.
biblioholic29 on LibraryThing 28 days ago
In an attempt to escape from her unhappy marriage, Sonia starts taking salsa lessons and quickly falls in love with dance. Her friend, Maggie soon joins her and together they plan a trip to Granada to take more lessons and dance the nights away in the local bars. While there, Sonia befriends a grizzled cafe owner, and soon discovers an interest in Spanish history, in particular the Spanish Civil War. Upon her return to England, Sonia's father tells her her mother was from Granada and pulls out some old pictures from those days Sonia has never seen before. One in particular stands out. Her mother, in a flamenco dress and pose, reminds her vividly of the girl she saw on the walls of the Granada cafe. Is it her mother? The only way to find out is to return to Granada and hear the tale of the Ramirez family...The Return is broken into 3 parts. The first and third parts take place in England and Granada in 2001 and focus on Sonia. The second, and longest, part is the tale of the Ramirez family in the 1930's. Father Pablo, mother Concha, sons Anotonio, Ignacio and Emilio and daughter Mercedes. Their trials and tribulations during the bloody and terrifying war are recounted to Sonia as we, the reader, listen in.The history was so well researched, that, at times, it seemed Hislop tried to cram in things she'd learned, though they really didn't have anything to do with the story. The narrative focus also jumped from character to character rather abruptly at times, which could be disconcerting. However, the prose was well-written and the story was compelling enough to keep me reading. Anyone who enjoys historical fiction or has an interest in Spain would certainly enjoy the history and the mystery of The Return.
tibobi on LibraryThing 28 days ago
The Short of It:Passionate, lyrical and teeming with life¿The Return is a love story like no other.The Rest of It:I fell in love with this book! I picked it up and had absolutely no idea what to expect when I opened its cover. What I found inside was a beautiful story about love and a heated battle to protect one¿s country. This is a story within a story and alternates between Sonia¿s story, which takes place in 2001 and the story of the Ramirez family that takes place between 1931-1936 and includes the Spanish Civil War.The story opens with Sonia and her close friend Maggie¿s trip to Granada. There, they enjoy the local color and Sonia realizes that her love of dancing is really a thirst that cannot be quenched. Sonia also realizes that her marriage is falling apart yet she isn¿t quite ready to admit it. She wanders into a café and meets Miguel, a kind waiter that begins to tell her about Granada and the history of the Ramirez family. Upon her return home, Sonia enrolls in a dance class. A dance class that her husband James sees as an intrusion upon their marriage. He lets his relationship with a bottle dictate what happens next and before you know it, Sonia is headed back to Grenada to visit her friend Maggie who has decided to live there permanently.Upon her return to Spain, Sonia¿s love of dance continues to grow. The fiery passion of flamenco pulls her in and she gives into the rhythmic stomping of feet and the clapping of hands. As the music falls upon her, and her feet take over, she finds her true self and begins to truly appreciate the culture around her. As she sorts through her thoughts, she goes back to the café to see Miguel and to learn more about the Ramirez family. Miguel is a natural storyteller, and regales Sonia with the story of Mercedes and her family. What she discovers changes her life forever.I highly recommend this book! Victoria Hislop takes a period of history that I knew very little about and creates a sweeping tale that¿s left quite an impression on me. So much so, that I have been reading up on the Spanish Civil War. It¿s THAT kind of book! Once it ends, you want the adventure to continue. This would make a wonderful book club selection and actually with Christmas around the corner a copy of this book along with a flamenco CD would be a great gift idea.
mzonderm on LibraryThing 28 days ago
There are some moments in this book where the writing feels fluid, but those moments are few and far between. Mostly the writing felt forced and stilted. Which is a shame because the narrative idea has a lot of potential, if only it were executed better. There are some good dramatic moments, and parts of the story could even be described as compelling. But the connection between the present-day (more or less) frame and the historical story set in the Spanish Civil War is too predictable (and not quite believable), and many characters lack a motivational back-story. Overall, there just wasn't enough to this book to hold it together.
bookwormygirl on LibraryThing 28 days ago
The Return feels as if it¿s almost told in two parts. In the present day you meet Sonia. She¿s a middle-aged woman who is having relationship issues and is facing some tough decisions when it comes to her marriage. She is visiting Spain with a friend and they decide to take some dancing classes to celebrate her friend¿s birthday.While on her trip she meets an elderly waiter at a cafe who tells her the story of the Ramirez family and the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. Pablo and Concha Ramirez run a cafe and lead a happy life with their children - Antonio who is a teacher, Ignacio the bull fighter, Emilio who is in line to take over the cafe and, their daughter, Mercedes, who is a talented flamenco dancer.This second part of the book tells the story of the Ramirez's and how their world and lives are affected by the war. Plenty of family drama ensues - disagreements, betrayals and eventually deaths.Ms. Hislop¿s writing is so vividly detailed that you feel as if you are whisked away on an epic adventure to Spain where you have a front seat to bull fights, flamenco dancing and a stroll through the streets of Granada. My favorite character was Mercedes - her love for Flamenco and her guitarist Javier were an inspiration. I really didn't know much about the Spanish Civil War and this book had a lot of insight into that time - I actually felt I learned something while reading it.I highly enjoyed this and recommend it to anyone - there's a little bit of everything (love, hate, drama, violence, adventure) in it, so it can definitely appease a wide variety of readers.
nycbookgirl on LibraryThing 28 days ago
In 2003, two thirty-something friends take a vacation to Granada, Spain to enjoy the town and take lessons in flamenco dancing. Sonia is in a love-less relationship with her husband and has taken refuge in her weekly flamenco classes. During her trip, she meets an elderly waiter who proceeds to divulge the torrent history of Granada and Spain during the Spanish Civil War which started in 1936 in an army coup led by General Franco. The story revolves around one family's tale, the Ramírez family who's daughter Mercedes was a talented flamenco dancer and who's son was a famous bullfighter. The first part of the story was ok. I'm more of a historical fiction fan so I was impatient to get to the Ramírez family's story. But it did drive home a point that many of us are not too familiar with Spain's story during this time period. When it was time for the Ramírez family's story, I almost thought I wasn't going to like this book. The story is definitely laid out as a narrative with few actual dialogue pieces. I'm not used to this type of story telling. I thought it was a bit too removed and distant. BUT...then I got into the story. Victoria Hislop paints the town of Granada with such vividness that I can almost see the streets. Mercedes was such a beautiful character living for two things: flamenco dancing and her love for the gypsy guitarist Javier. Long after the story ended I still think on the Ramírez family, just one of thousands of families who's lives were ripped asunder by the Spanish Civil War and Franco's regime. Now I want to see a flamenco dance.
khuggard on LibraryThing 28 days ago
In Victoria Hislop's earlier work, The Island, she has a modern day woman visit a scene of historical import and proceeds to tell a fascinating story through historical flashbacks. It worked wonderfully for The Island, so Hislop tried it again here. Unfortunately, this time the storytelling device fell flat. This time there was too much focus on the current day in an uninteresting plotline and not enough detail about the history. After about 100 pages, I couldn't bear to read another word. Not worth reading.
Litfan on LibraryThing 28 days ago
This novel was an unexpected gem. To help explain how riveting it was for me: it takes me awhile to get into new books, and I have never really been able to read more than a page or two while flying as planes scare me to death. I started this novel on a cross-country flight and it was so good there were moments I forgot I was in a plane!The novel contains the present-day story of Sonia, an Englishwoman who is learning to dance salsa and flamenco and goes to Granada to further her dancing skills. She is unhappily married to a stuffy, likely alcoholic, man named James and the trip to Granada clarifies her feelings about her marriage.Set into, and connected with, Sonia's own story, is the story of the Ramirez family, which Sonia learns slowly through her conversations with Miguel, the elderly owner of a cafe she frequents in Granada. Miguel illuminates for Sonia, and for the readers, the little-known history of the Spanish civil war and the rise of fascism in Spain. The history is brought to life through the story of the Ramirezes, whose family and history is irrevocably altered by the civil war. Yes, the novel is a bit predictable in some places. But it is also illuminative, gut-wrenching, and thought-provoking. Beautiful language and an engrossing plot bring history to life.
gaby317 on LibraryThing 28 days ago
Synopsis:Sonia visits Granada to celebrate a friend's birthday with a dance class. Unfamiliar with the city's past and the brutality under Franco's regime, a chance encounter at a neighborhood cafe introduces Sonia to the brave and complex story of the Rodriguez family's suffering and survival through the Spanish civil war.Seventy years earlier, Concha and Pablo owned and managed the same cafe with no notion of the danger and pain that would soon visit their family. Their eldest son, Antonio, is an idealistic young teacher. Their second child, Ignacio, is a star matador. Their only daughter, Mercedes only loves to dance and would spend her days honing her skills with their third child, Emilio, a gifted musician. But when Ignacio is seduced by General Franco's policies, the civil war tears the family apart.Book Review:Beautifully written, The Return transports you to the Spain during the complex and extraordinary time of the Spanish Civil War. You will be drawn in as Concha and Pablo try to keep the Rodriguez family together and safe. The children battle their fates. Bullfights, Spanish dancers, Federico Garcia Lorca, warring brothers, loving parents, and star-crossed lovers, the story offers beauty, drama and violence. The stories of love and sorrow will linger with you for a long time.Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (October 6, 2009), 416 pages.Review copy provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours.
Soniamarie on LibraryThing 28 days ago
After being blown away by "The Island" I immediately ordered "The Return" and I am not disappointed. I am now an official Victoria Hislop fan. Her novels are to be savored and enjoyed. "The Return" begins in recent times in England. Readers are introduced to a middle aged woman named Sonia. This part is very similiar to "The Island" as both heroines are having relationship issues and are both facing similiar difficult choices.. basically "stay with this jerk or leave" type choices. I found parts of the book regarding Sonia rather predictable but that did not deter me. Sonia and her friend take up salsa dancing and after finding some old pictures of her mother and taking a trip to Spain, Sonia becomes fascinated with the story of the Ramirez family. The middle part of the book is about the Ramirez family and Spain's Civil War in the 1930s. There is a mother, Concha and father, Pablo. They run a cafe and for a while things are wonderful in their life. Their oldest son, Antonio is a teacher. Their middle son, Ignacio is a bull fighter. Their youngest son, Emilio is slowly taking over the cafe and has a passion for music. The daughter, Mercedes is a talented flamenco dancer. The Ramirez family's world shatters with the beginning of the war as their sons oppose each other, betray each other, and one by one, the family members are arrested, killed, or face some life changing complication due to the war. There is a romance between Mercedes and a guitarist, Javier. She spends the duration of the war searching for her love and taking many risks to find him. She never loses her love of dancing tho and she brightens many a person's day with her skills. Even in times of war, one must find joy and express it. The last part of the novel takes readers back to present day England and Sonia must make a difficult choice after making some surprising revelations. Will the story of the Ramirez family inspire her somehow? A beautiful novel and a fabulous look at the life of Spain, the passion behind flamenco, the risks behind bullfighting, and the trials families face in civil war. Just like an appreciative audience watching a flamenco dancer tap and twirl or a bullfighter swing his cape, I say "Ole! Ole!" to this fine novel.
whitreidtan on LibraryThing 28 days ago
My knowledge of the Spanish Civil War comes solely from reading Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls many years ago and while there are certain scenes from that novel that remain vivid in my memory, it doesn't, perhaps, form the most coherent and complete view of that war. But aside from a brief mention of Franco, his Fascists, and their officially undeclared (but well known) sympathies during WWII, this was a bit of history that was mostly absent from any history classes I took in school. So the chance to read a book that would fill in some educational gaps was appealing to me. Victoria Hislop's The Return offered me just that opportunity.A weekly escape from her bloodless marriage, Sonia's salsa class becomes of prime importance in her life. So when her best friend Maggie joins her, subsequently booking a girls' vacation in Granada in order for the two of them to take more lessons and to celebrate Maggie's birthday together, Sonia defies her increasingly distant and potentially alcoholic husband's wishes and jumps into the vacation with gusto. While in Granada, she meets an elderly man who runs a cafe there and who offers her intriguing tidbits about the Spanish Civil War and the history of the city. When the vacation ends, Sonia reluctantly returns to her stultifying life in London. But Maggie, free-spirit that she is heads back to Spain and the freedom and joy she found there. And eventually Sonia, suffocating in her loveless marriage, is drawn back to Granada as well, returning to the cafe and the elderly man who promises to tell her more. He narrates, for the bulk of the novel, the fascinating story of the Ramirez family, one family among many who suffered and were split apart by the Civil War. Mercedes was a spirited and amazing flamenco dancer. One brother was a firm believer in Franco and the fascists while another fought hard for the Federalists. And yet a third was apolitical but was a homosexual and therefore a target of the Nationalists. While the Civil War played an enormous role in the story, this was very much a love story as well, familial love, filial love, and passionate love as well.The story of Mercedes and her brothers and their eventual fates makes for fairly riveting reading. The framing device, using Sonia and the elderly barrista in the modern day to contrast with the strife and struggle of the past, works well. But the frame also offers a chance for a very predictable but incredibly unlikely coincidence and the author isn't strong enough to resist this easy and unbelievable ending. The tale of Sonia's marriage, set against Mercedes' all-consuming love for Javier before having it torn asunder by war helps to clarify things in Sonia's mind and drives home the power of true love. Hislop doesn't shy away from vividly depicting the soul-sucking effects of war and the way it destroys people both physically and emotionally. This is a dramatic and mostly compelling read and those who enjoy historical fiction will find themselves engrossed in the historical world os the Spanish Civil War even if the modern day frame is less compelling and a little too obvious.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am so tired of people who give there reviews and basically tell the whole story. So why read the book they have already outlined the whole story for you.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The subject matter on which the novel is based, the Spanish Civil War, is one about which most of us know very little. That was the main reason I picked up the book. Hislop does present the events in an informative manner although there were times when I had the sense of reading an encyclopedia entry. The story kept one's attention; the reader gets caught up in the fate of the characters. However, the writing style seemed somewhat stiff, wooden. In spite of the drawbacks mentioned, the novel is worth reading, mainly because it highlights yet another tragic era of the 20th century.
Stacie0408 More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book because I previously read The Island by Victoria Hislop and enjoyed it so much I assumed her second work would be equally impressionable. I was 100% correct. This was the first book I've read regarding the Spanish Civil War and the amount of research that went into this book and the subsequent telling of the story was astonishing with all the details. I enjoyed the two storylines and the intersection it led to. I'm sure the story of the Ramirez family is one that many Spanish families can sympathize with and one that historical fiction readers can empathize with. All in all, one of the best books I've read in a while.
gl More than 1 year ago
Synopsis: Sonia visits Granada to celebrate a friend's birthday with a dance class. Unfamiliar with the city's past and the brutality under Franco's regime, a chance encounter at a neighborhood cafe introduces Sonia to the brave and complex story of the Rodriguez family's suffering and survival through the Spanish civil war. Seventy years earlier, Concha and Pablo owned and managed the same cafe with no notion of the danger and pain that would soon visit their family. Their eldest son, Antonio, is an idealistic young teacher. Their second child, Ignacio, is a star matador. Their only daughter, Mercedes only loves to dance and would spend her days honing her skills with their third child, Emilio, a gifted musician. But when Ignacio is seduced by General Franco's policies, the civil war tears the family apart. Book Review: Beautifully written, The Return transports you to the Spain during the complex and extraordinary time of the Spanish Civil War. You will be drawn in as Concha and Pablo try to keep the Rodriguez family together and safe. The children battle their fates. Bullfights, Spanish dancers, Federico Garcia Lorca, warring brothers, loving parents, and star-crossed lovers, the story offers beauty, drama and violence. The stories of love and sorrow will linger with you for a long time. Publisher: : Harper Paperbacks (October 6, 2009), 416 pages. Review copy provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours.