Hello everybody! Welcome, or welcome back to my blog!
Today, I’m sharing a book review from the amazing Ruta Sepetys who has, once again, blown me away with her novel. The Fountains of Silence is an interesting and moving story set in a time I seldom hear about: Spain in the 1950s.
I enjoyed two other books by this author: Salt to the Sea and Between Shades of Gray. I find this book very similar, in the writing and the progression of the story, especially to Salt to the Sea. I hope to read her latest release soon, I Must Betray You.
Without further ado, here’s the spoiler free book review.
The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys
Summary from Goodreads
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.
My thoughts on the book
I love the characters that Ruta Sepetys writes. They feel so real, with their own hopes and dream, fears and stories.
Ana and Daniel are the two main characters, and I loved them both. Ana’s courageousness and her devotion to her family, and Daniel’s caring attitude and dedication were some of my favorite traits of theirs. I also loved reading about the friendship and romance blooming between these two characters.
There is a long string of other characters, including Rafa, Ana’s brother, Julia, Ana’s protective older sister, Fuga, Rafa’s friend who won’t put up with injustice in Spain, Puri, Ana’s inquisitive cousin, and other characters, who shape this story into a powerful and heartbreaking tale about silence, love, family, and secrets, as the Goodreads summary states.
One thing that I didn’t like at the beginning was the number of characters the book follows. It’s told in the third person, but each chapter skips around to include the whole cast of characters in the narrative. At the beginning of the novel, I found it difficult to keep track of who was who, but after the first few chapters, I got to know who the characters were, and who the chapter was following.
Plot and setting
The plot and setting of this book were very interesting. The book slowly weaves together into an unforgettable story, which is driven by the amazing characters.
One thing I like about all the Ruta Sepetys books I’ve read so far is that she writes very well-researched books about little-known times in history. I knew almost nothing about 1950s Spain under Franco’s dictatorship before reading this book, which gave me a lot of insight into this historical time.
Throughout the story, the reader learns more. This book, similar to Sepetys’ other books, slowly tells the story in a secretive way, giving off tidbits of information throughout the book, until we have a full understanding of the story at the end. What I’m trying to say is that you don’t know all of the facts as the books go on. There will be some parts where you’re wondering: What is that character keeping from me? This aspect, I find very similar to Salt to the Sea.
Another thing about the plot is that it’s very character-driven, which I’m totally fine with. Sepetys researched this historical period so well, too, that as you’re reading her book, you get a feel for what that time was really like. While reading about Ana’s family’s struggles, Daniel’s time in Madrid, and Puri’s descriptions of the orphanage, the reader really understands what life was like for people living in 1957 Spain.
Ruta Sepety’s writing style is very…I don’t know how to describe it. It’s not choppy, but I feel like her writing has shorter sentences, that really draws the reader in. This writing may not be for everyone, but I really enjoyed it.
Something that I found a little strange at first was the way the book was written. It was told in the third person and was present tense. This, I don’t find in many books and it took a little while to get used to, but it wasn’t too big of a problem.
Similar books, and who should read this book
This book is very similar to the other two Ruta Sepetys books I’ve read, which were Salt to the Sea and Between Shades of Gray. If you haven’t read either of those, and you loved this book, I’d recommend them to you. Or, if you’ve read these two books, but haven’t gotten around to The Fountains of Silence, I’d recommend you read this beautiful historical fiction.
One thing I’ll say is that this book is not for everyone. She has a certain writing style that not everyone enjoys. She doesn’t have choppy writing, but it’s written similarly to that: shorter, to-the-point sentences, like I mentioned earlier. I personally enjoy that narrative, but as I said, it’s not for everyone.
If you read this book, and you’re wanting to read a similar book, I’d first recommend any other Ruta Sepetys books. Lovely War by Julie Berry is another book I find similar to this one. It’s narrated very uniquely, and it tells the lovely story of two different romance stories during World War One. I was unsure about this book at first, but it was amazing and I really enjoyed it.
If you normally like historical fiction or mystery type stories, I’d recommend this book to you. It has a mysterious element to it, though it’s not a mystery, it has a bit of that, with a few plot twists, and twists at the ending. Besides that, it is an amazingly researched historical fiction.
I loved this book if it isn’t clear from reading my review. There are a few things I didn’t enjoy about the novel, such as the many narrators, because it was hard to keep track of all of them at first, or the first person, present tense writing. Both of those, though, I eventually got used to. They aren’t real problems. I don’t have any real complaints about this book, which I found amazing. Despite being about five hundred pages, this book flew by quickly, because of the short two to three page chapters. It was, no doubt, a five star read for me!
Thank you for reading! Have you read this book, or any other Ruta Sepetys books? What were your thoughts about them? Or, is it on your TBR? Do you have any other historical fiction recs for me? I’d love to chat in the comments!
Bye, everyone! I’ll see you on Monday, next week! Please comment with your thoughts on this book review, or on the book, because I love chatting with y’all!