Book Review: The Fountains of Silence

I am a massive fan of Ruta Sepetys, let me say that first. Between Shades of Grey broke me, and has stayed with me, and I have a lot of feelings for the sequel Salt to the Sea also. Out of the Easy, whilst less painful, was no less of a good read and so it kind of goes without saying that I was 100% grabby hands for The Fountains of Silence, her new novel which was published at the start of October. I was (I am) so here for this book.

It's set in Spain in the 1950's under the fascist dictatorship of General Franco. Here for any and all the historical novels thank you so the blurb for this ticked so many boxes for me and whilst I do know about this period of time in Spanish history, I haven't read much set in it so I was super keen to flex my muscles a little bit; and I knew, I just knew that Sepetys wouldn't disappoint.

I was right. YAY FOR ME. You may applaud me and my right-ness.


The story follows Daniel, son of a Texas oil tycoon father and a Spanish mother. He's holidaying in the shiny new Spain that is presented to tourists in a bid to draw them in because post-war Spain is so desperate for money, and , bless him, he has no idea of the life the hotel maid he finds himself falling for is leading.

Simple rich boy poor girl forbidden love story you think?

Oh bless your innocent heart. This is not that. I mean, it is. But it also so is not.

Daniel wants to be a photojournalist and, when he starts to scratch the surface  of the Spain outside his fancy hotel doors, he realises there's a story he wants his photos to tell - the story of beautiful terrified girls, of matadors and missing children and families forced to pay extortionate amounts of money for the upkeep of the graves of their dead.

I'm not even kidding. Can you imagine a life where you can't afford to eat because all your money is spent making sure the body of your Mother isn't exhumed and thrown into an unmarked mass grave? I mean, Jesus Christ.

This book will make the hairs on your arms stand on end - and do you want to know why? Ok, so read this book and then read something like The Handmaid's Tale and tell me that there aren't terrifying similarities between a fictional dystopian future and Spain, post WWII:

Women are prettier with their mouths shut, to be desired yet not desirable; stolen babies are sold by the church to the highest bidder; there is an undeniable and sickening gulf between the rich and the 'degenerate' poor. It made my jaw drop. This happened guys, this book isn't set 100 years in the future or even 1 year in the future, it's set in the past and it is based on cold hard facts.

Sepetys' work is always so well researched and this is no different. The way this multi-faceted story of love and loss and identity unfolds against the backdrop of Franco's horrors is a rare and special read. It's a beautiful story - Sepetys writes first love so well - but it's also the kind of story that makes your stomach twist; the worst thing really about any kind if historical fiction is that it's based in fact and those facts are so rarely good.

Ana and Daniel's love story is beautiful, don't get me wrong, and I promise you these are two kids so worth your time and your love - their story is wonderful, slowly building to a breathtaking crescendo but it's not what this book is about. It's about - like Shades before it - the atrocities of our history that shouldn't be allowed to be forgotten.

Did you know it's believed that over 300,000 babies were stolen during the years Franco was in power? 300,000 families told their newborn baby had died, when in actual fact that baby had been sold to a family deemed more 'suitable'.
I cannot.
It doesn't bear thinking about, but Sepetys, with her beautiful love story between the rich boy and the poor girl, she makes you think about it, drawing you in and holding you tight and slowly and quietly breaking your heart without you even realising.

For me, Sepetys can do little wrong, and this book is so so so worth your time, I promise you.

Also Fuga. Not ever getting over him, ever.