Book Reviews

Book Review: The Fountains of Silence

by Ruta Sepetys

publisher’s synopsis

A portrait of love, silence, and secrets under a Spanish dictatorship.

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.

The Fountains of Silence gives a thoughtful glimpse into life in Spain during the 1950s.

As I’ve said before, I love how historical fiction can give me an introduction to or a better understanding of historical events or time periods that I don’t know much about. And that’s what happened with The Fountains of Silence.

This was my first Sepetys read (though I have more of her books on my TBR now), so I don’t quite know her writing style yet. But her style in The Fountains of Silence was very unique. First off, it’s in third-person, present tense, which is something you don’t see very often. It did throw me off a little at first, but I quickly became used to it. Sepetys also employs several POV characters–though Ana and Daniel remain the two main POVs– and short chapters. Everything worked together to create a unique writing style that was neat to read.

Like I said above, there are several POVs, and then a slightly larger cast of characters. However, you still get to know all of the characters and care about them. Sure, we don’t get to know them as well we maybe could, but Sepetys’s portrayal of Spain is vivid enough that it helps the characters to come to life and you to fill them in a little bit more.

The Fountains of Silence deals with some heavier topics, as one might expect. Sepetys handles it all very well, not skipping over the hard stuff, but not dwelling on it either. She doesn’t give excessive details. You know what is going on, without having to get the gritty details.

I would have liked for the ending to be a little bit more resolved, but it made sense to end where it did. The “suddenness” of the ending might have also caught me off guard since I was listening to the audiobook, and didn’t know I had a dwindling number of pages. 🙂

As said above, I listened to the audiobook of The Fountains of Silence, and it was done super well. I loved the narrator’s accent, and her Spanish was fantastic and fluid. I also loved the way the producers made the audio for the quotes between chapters sound as if they could be from the 60s. It added to the atmosphere of the novel and listening experience.

Cautions: several instances of swearing; several blasphemies; brief, semi-graphic descriptions; moderate romance; several kisses*

*Because I listened to the audiobook while working, I couldn’t keep exact track of cautions for The Fountains of Silence.

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