Title: The Fountains of Silence
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
Published: October 1st, 2019 (Philomel Books)
Synopsis: 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 year is 1957, and Daniel Matheson arrives in Madrid with his parents. His father, an oil tycoon, is negotiating a deal with Franco. Daniel, however, hopes to get to know his mother’s home country through his passion of photography, to understand what the real Spain is like and not just what is advertised to tourists. Ana Moreno is the daughter of Republican parents who were executed when she was a child, and she and her family live in fear, staying under the radar as much as possible. When Daniel meets Ana at the hotel where she works as a maid, he gets a glimpse of the lingering effects of the Civil War and how many people are still affected by it to this day.
The era of history involving the Spanish Civil War is entirely new to me, and more than the story, The Fountains of Silence was a learning experience. The news articles and excerpts from historical documents included between chapters were a great touch that brought this turbulent period in Spanish history to life. It was interesting to see things from Daniel’s perspective, basically an outsider to the struggles of the country – something different from the other books by this author I have read so far – while on the other hand, reading from the perspectives of Ana and her family who live with these hardships every day.
The Fountains of Silence draws the reader into the tale and it’s impossible not to get involved and want to know more, but the story wraps up far too quickly – and too neatly. The time skip and sudden ending was rather annoying, especially after getting to know these characters so well. There was something about this book that feels incomplete, like there is so much left untold. The question of what was really going on at the orphanages was not answered until the end, but it was quite easy to deduce and while it was not a main focus of the story, it really felt like it should have been. I was also not a huge fan of the pacing which is another reason this was not a five star read for me.
The Fountains of Silence was a beautifully written and well-researched book that really brings out the feel of the time period, and the multiple POVs really added to this, making it a deep and meaningful read. I would highly recommend this for historical fiction fans.
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!