The Seamstress ~ by María Dueñas

Friday, December 27The Seamstress is a Spanish woman who finds herself in Morocco at the start of the Spanish Civil War. Left high and dry by a lover who whisked her away from Madrid, she fends for herself by becoming a high-class seamstress to wives of some of the most powerful German and Spanish men in Tétouan, the Spanish protectorate in Morocco.

Because of her close friendship with an independent Englishwoman, Rosalinda, and due to her worries about her country and her family, she becomes increasingly involved in the British attempts to keep Spain from allying themselves with the Axis powers in what is slowly but surely becoming World War II. The novel takes place in Madrid, Tétouan & Tangiers in Morocco, and in Lisbon. After having spent a month in Spain and Portugal last summer, I found this book fascinating.

The novel also goes by the name of The Time In Between; I’m not sure of the reason for this, but it is confusing.  I actually already had The Time In Between on my Kindle; after downloading it, I continued to search high and low for The Seamstress, thinking it was a different book.  I finally bought it from Amazon upon my return to the U.S.  If I’m going to own two copies of a book, I guess this is one to have, doubled.🙂

This seamstress-turned-spy novel, by María Dueñas, which is also historical fiction, is an amazing book that I couldn’t put down. Well-written, enthralling and even educational!

weekly photo challenge: sea

Saturday, August 31:  The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is SEA.

Sarah Rosso writes: Sea. What kind of emotions does the sea or ocean make you feel? Do you remember the first time you went in the water? Had a wave crash on you? Felt the sand burn your feet? Do you feel more peaceful around water? Do you hate the beach? What’s the most interesting thing about the sea for you?

In a new post specifically for this challenge, share a photo which means SEA to you!

I used to love the sea, making frequent trips to Virginia Beach or the Outer Banks as a teenager, slathering myself in baby oil, lying in the hot sun and listening to Seals & Crofts’ “Summer Days” on a boom box.  I’d enjoy the salty smell of the sea and the lapping of the waves on the shore while getting lost in a good book, or I’d fall asleep in the hot sun, covered in a thin and sticky coat of sand.  Whenever I got hot or bored, I’d wade through the surf and go for a swim, floating on the waves and letting the motion carry my body, which felt light and buoyant.

These days, I don’t enjoy the sea in the same way that I used to.  I don’t really like to swim in it anymore, and neither do I enjoy lying in unrelenting sunlight with a sprinkle of sand sticking to my body as I were some Velcro strip.  I prefer to either walk along the edge of the sea in the cool off-season, or I enjoy watching its shimmering and dancing surface from a high-up vantage point.

Here’s the way I best enjoy the sea these days.  From Oia, Santorini, Greece in September 2012.

the sea from Oia, Santorini, Greece

the sea from Oia, Santorini, Greece

weekly photo challenge: carefree

Saturday, August 17:  The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge for this week is carefree.

Sheri Bigelow of WordPress writes: Summer memories make everything feel magical to me — carefree and untroubled.

Even on the trips where everything went wrong, I look back and smile at the narrow escapes, or the long walks on a beach while I sorted out and righted the world.

Whether a good memory was made in years past, yesterday, or only moments ago, I love letting the nostalgia wrap me up — like a borrowed sweater on a cold summer night. Even more, I love making new memories: a carefree summer at the lake, a stroll through the park, dancing in the rain… then all I need to do is remember, and the same carefree feeling washes over me.

This young lady in Cascais, Portugal, looks pretty carefree.

Cascais, Portugal

Cascais, Portugal

travel theme: architecture

Monday, August 12:  Ailsa’s Travel Theme (Where’s my backpack?) for this week is architecture.  I’ve been having a bit of a hard time with this one because it’s such a broad theme.  As a matter of fact, I would say my entire trip through Spain and Portugal this summer was about the architecture (and the food!), so you could look at my entire travelogue to see some amazing architecture.  For this challenge, I’m going to limit myself to three places, four photos.  These are some of my favorites, but are of course not all-inclusive!

First choice, hands down, Cordoba’s Mezquita.  To see lots more pictures, you can check out my post: andalucía: córdoba’s stunning mezquita.

Cordoba's Mezquita

Cordoba’s Mezquita

Second choice, Seville’s Alcázar.  If you’d like to see more, you can visit: the alcázar in seville.

Seville's Alcázar

Seville’s Alcázar

Seville's Alcázar

Seville’s Alcázar

And finally, I have to include at least one place from beautiful Sintra, in Portugal: the gorgeous Palace of Monserrate.

Palace of Monserrate

Palace of Monserrate