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Winter in Madrid | [C. J. Sansom]

Winter in Madrid

Winter in Madrid is set just after the bloody Spanish Civil War, with World War II looming over Europe. Reluctantly, Harry Brett looks for an old schoolmate who's become a person of interest for British intelligence.
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Publisher's Summary

Winter in Madrid is set just after the bloody Spanish Civil War, with World War II looming over Europe. Reluctantly, Harry Brett looks for an old schoolmate who's become a person of interest for British intelligence.

©2006 C.J. Sansom; (P)2006 Recorded Books, LLC

What the Critics Say

"The playing fields of Rookwood did little to prepare reluctant spy Harry Brett for the moral no man's land of post-Civil War Spain that awaits him in this cinematic historical thriller from British author Sansom....But those halcyon days have made him one of the few people likely to win the confidence of fellow old boy Sandy Forsyth, now a shady Madrid businessman, Franco associate and object of intense curiosity to British intelligence. Despite his reservations, Brett - whose best friend from Rookwood, Bernie Piper, disappeared in Spain a few years earlier while battling Franco with the International Brigade - accepts the assignment as his duty, and almost as swiftly regrets it. For the Madrid he finds has become a mockery of the vibrant, hopeful place he and Bernie visited during the dawn of the Republic. As in his Matthew Shardlake mystery series set in Tudor London, Sansom deftly plots his politically charged tale for maximal suspense, all the way up to its stunning conclusion. A bestseller in the U.K., this moving opus leaves the reader mourning for the Spain that might have been - and the England that maybe never was. (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (81 )
5 star
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3.6 (40 )
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Story
3.9 (38 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Annie Chapel Hill, NC, USA 10-04-09
    Annie Chapel Hill, NC, USA 10-04-09 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "realistic characters in historical context"

    I have read all of CJ Sansom's mysteries set in/around the reign of Henry VIII and the establishment of the Church of England. i enjoyed the historical context and mystery plot. I was a bit hesitant to purchase Winter in Madrid as I did not know what to expect in terms of treatment of the very diverse and violent political movements of the time. I found the book to be quite enjoyable because of Sansom's creation of characters who are not perfect, but are wrestling either with post-war apathy or their pre-conceived notions of the "right" political stance. the story does not have a nice, "happy ever after ending", but this too is in keeping with the times. I enjoyed learning more about Spain's history both pre and post WWII as part of the plot development, and it has prompted me to take on some non-fiction reading of Franco and England's and France's role in keeping an authoritarian, rightist regime in power at the expense of the less wealthy/connected members of the society. Morally questionable?, that's for each person to decide, but pragmatically - it almost always comes back to kick you in the teeth (Shah- Iran; Allende-Chile...the list goes on). an enjoyable, and thoughtful read.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff DANVILLE, KY, United States 02-11-13
    Jeff DANVILLE, KY, United States 02-11-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Grim is an understatement"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I would not recommend this book to anyone who I considered a friend without giving them the contact information for the local suicide hotline. The story was extremely depressing and really didn't need to be.


    What was most disappointing about C. J. Sansom’s story?

    The ending was unreasonably sad. The main character had a bittersweet life which continued to sour. Sansom could have let him have some happiness at least.


    Have you listened to any of Gordon Gordon’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I don't think I have heard him perform before, but he was magnificent.


    Did Winter in Madrid inspire you to do anything?

    Yes. It inspired me to not read Dominion. If Sansom writes another Shardlake mystery, however, I will give it a shot. I have listened to all of those--that's the only reason I bothered with Winter in Madrid.


    Any additional comments?

    Sansom is a skilled writer whose ability to paint with words is marvelous. If I were to see any of his characters on the street I feel sure I would recognize them--they seem that clear and that real. His works are exceptionally well researched and very true to the period and events he tries to capture. The plots are excellent, including the one for this book. This book starts a little slow, but there was a lot of groundwork to lay. The pace picks up at the end of part one and he builds suspense steadily until the end. I just hated to see the story end with such despair and lack of hope, especially for Harry--I couldn't help but feel that he might have been better off to have died at Dunkirk.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Allen E Feltzin PHILADELPHIA, PA, US 09-23-12
    Allen E Feltzin PHILADELPHIA, PA, US 09-23-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
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    "war weary and bleak"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    If I were only interested in the Spanish Civil War it would have been fantastic fiction. I thought that I was reading about espionage. This was more political than espionage. Worn torn Spain was the main character. If I had known that I would not have listenened to the book.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    I hated it but understood it.


    Have you listened to any of Gordon Gordon’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    He was excellent.


    Did Winter in Madrid inspire you to do anything?

    to be more careful in what I listen too. Mr Sansom's other series was fantastic. I liked espionage and thought that was what I was getting. I feel misled.


    Any additional comments?

    The main characters, two out of three, were weak and not that interesting. This is a book about the atrocity that was the Spanish Civil War. As a historical document it is probably excellent.
    I was looking for escapist fiction and clearly picked the wrong novel.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia 02-01-10
    Patricia 02-01-10 Member Since 2008
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    5
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    "A good "listen."

    "Winter in Madrid (Unabridged)" is a thoughtful and interesting novel set in a period not well known by many. I found it absorbing and enlightening. I recommend it.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard 12-17-12
    Richard 12-17-12

    Likes intelligent mysteries, spy thrillers, world history, most anything Roman. Hates bad writing.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Shardlake fans will be disappointed"

    The very negative reviews of this book might well be the result of the jarring difference in style, tone, and narrative from the Shardlake series. Winter in Madrid is written in a literary style" with a weak plot, third person narration, flashbacks, and a generally bleak mood. As a fan of the Shardlake series I was unpleasantly surprised by all of the above. I wouldn't consider Winter in Madrid to be a failure or a bad novel, but it was neither what I expected or enjoyed. For anyone interested in the Spanish Civil War I would recommend Orwell's Homage to Catalonia.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah 05-12-13
    Sarah 05-12-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not Sansom's Best"
    Any additional comments?

    I bought this because I like Sansom's Matthew Shardlake stories. This is not as good. Alan Furst does this genre much better.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Colby Omaha, NE, United States 06-05-12
    Colby Omaha, NE, United States 06-05-12 Member Since 2011

    Married mother of three teenagers, back to work after 15 years at home - when I read a lot. Now I am the assistant to the Mayor of Omaha and work at least 60 hours a week, and on top of what I have to do at home - no more books. This lets me listen to the classics, the latest, whatever I want. I can learn or escape. I have always love audio books, but now I NEED them.

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    "War is depressing, but not as much as this story."
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The ending. I don't want to ruin anyone's experience, but that is what I would change.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    I truly enjoyed the personal view of the world in Spain at the beginning of WWII. I knew nothing of Spain's civil war, and this not only educated me but fit those items into a good timeline with what I know of WWII. I loved all of the historical details.


    Have you listened to any of Gordon Gordon’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I am not too hard to please with narrators. If I don't notice too much, that is good, and I didn't notice this one too much.


    Do you think Winter in Madrid needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No, the end covers several years into the lives of the characters, so I don't know what could be gained.


    Any additional comments?

    Don't look to this book for a feel-good war story, but it is accurate in capturing the devastation that is the reality of war-time life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    I love audiobooks KS 08-09-09 Member Since 2004

    Legalu

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    "Needed to erase from my memory."

    As a fan of CJ Sansom and historical novels, I purchaed the not-yet-reviewed, "Winter in Madrid." I haven't read very many books about the Spainish Civil War and looked forward to an interesting and complex story. Historically accuate or not, the novel is filled with wholly unlikeable and pathetic characters. By the end, unscrupulous Sandy was the only sympathetic character. I forced myself to finish this long, dismal novel. I was left with such a "bad taste in my mouth" I immediately started, "Inherent Vice," by Thomas Pynchon to erase, "Winter in Madrid," from my memory.

    5 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike GREELEY, CO, USA 05-31-10
    Mike GREELEY, CO, USA 05-31-10
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    4
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    "Should have been a soap instead of a spy novel"

    True, it did have some of the elements of a spy novel but it better fit a soap with all of the touchey feeley drivel it put the reader through. It was a waste of money.

    0 of 4 people found this review helpful
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