This week’s choice is a gripping saga about a young woman who discovers the true prize of love…

The Seamstress by Maria Duenas coverThe Seamstress by Maria Dueñas

(£7.99, Penguin)

Spain is on the brink of civil war when young Sira Quiroga falls for con man Ramiro. As the strength of her feelings overwhelm and blind her to his true intentions, he leaves her penniless and stranded in Morocco. But unable to return to her native country as it tears itself apart, Sira is forced to rely on her skills as a seamstress to work for the foreign women staying in the country. But will she abuse her clients’ trust when the British secret service approach her for vital information?


JUDY SAYS ‘Sira’s affair with Ramiro, heady and exciting at first, swiftly turns into the first great catastrophe of her life. Her lover is a fraud whose honeyed words and sweet caresses conceal an empty, selfish heart. Ramiro persuades Sira to abandon her life in Madrid and the couple run away together to Morocco, where they set up in a luxurious hotel. Sira has inherited a large sum of money from her distant father, and we know from that moment her doom is sealed. Of course Ramiro abandons her at the first opportunity without a peseta to her name. It’s a terrific start to a wonderful book. Sira becomes tangled in a shady demi-monde of spying, conspiracy and betrayal, and of course sex and love. A glowing, totally assured novel, and a complete delight.

RICHARD SAYS ‘If you like your novels ‘epic’ (with the word ‘sweeping’ in front) then is for you. The mark of a really good epic is that however long it is, you don’t want it to end. Even after I’d finished the final chapter – and at 609 pages, this is the longest book I’ve read for quite a while – I would have been happy with a few more. Part of the power of Dueñas’s storytelling comes from the fact she wrote the original in Spanish. This is a translation, and an excellent one. The authentic whiff of Spain rises from the pages; the passion, the pride, the dusty summer heat and the tragedy of the Spanish civil war. It’s a richly satisfying read.’

OUR READER SAYS: ‘I found this book extremely enjoyable, and the more I read, the more I didn’t want to put the book down. The period it covers is an area of history that I have little knowledge of and I found it extremely interesting on that level too – it gave me a certain empathy with the heroine, Sira, as, like her, I was unaware of what was likely to happen next politically and who the main players were. The first few chapters set the scene for the rest of the book, but I felt these moved far too quickly. It’s worth getting beyond these though, as the action slows down and there is much more character development. I was trying to work out who was on whose side and what the likely outcomes would be.’

Christine Constable, 52,  Cornwall

HAVE YOUR SAY! Read this book? Join in with the Richard and Judy Book Club online or if you’ve read the book, why not post your review below? Happy reading!


If you like this, try these…


The Return by Victoria Hislop (£7.99, Headline Review)

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The Postmistress by Sarah Blake coverThe Postmistress by Sarah Blake (£7.99, Penguin)

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The House At Riverton by Kate Morton coverThe House at Riverton by Kate Morton (£7.99, Macmillan)

Both a mystery and a love story, this novel takes us back to the events of 1924 – what secrets from the past will be revealed?