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Summary

From the best-selling author of the Shardlake series, C. J. Sansom, comes Winter in Madrid, a standalone historical novel set in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War.

1940: The Spanish Civil War is over, and Madrid lies ruined, its people starving, while the Germans continue their relentless march through Europe. Britain now stands alone while General Franco considers whether to abandon neutrality and enter the war.

Into this uncertain world comes Harry Brett: a traumatised veteran of Dunkirk turned reluctant spy for the British Secret Service. Sent to gain the confidence of old school friend Sandy Forsyth, now a shady Madrid businessman, Harry finds himself involved in a dangerous game – and surrounded by memories. Meanwhile Sandy's girlfriend, ex-Red Cross nurse Barbara Clare, is engaged on a secret mission of her own – to find her former lover Bernie Piper, a passionate Communist in the International Brigades, who vanished on the bloody battlefields of the Jarama.

In a vivid and haunting depiction of wartime Spain, Winter in Madrid by C.J. Sansom is an intimate and compelling tale which offers a remarkable sense of history unfolding and the profound impact of impossible choices.

©2019 C. J. Sansom (P)2019 Macmillan Digital Audio

What listeners say about Winter in Madrid

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    5 out of 5 stars
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If you want to understand the recent political situation in Spain look no further.

An intense and most interesting portrayal of the Spanish politics in the 1930’s. CJS ability to weave a storyline is enhanced and brought to life by Daniel Weyman and holds the attention of the listener right to the end. CJS provides an excellent lesson in unraveling a period of history that provides the listener with a ring side seat to a greater understanding.

14 people found this helpful

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Spanish Civil War in the 1930s

I’ve read everything written by C.J. Sansom and especially enjoy the Shardlake series. His historical research into the period of the stories is extremely thorough and adds so much to each book. I had read this book a while ago and noticed that Audible had recently released an unabridged version, having only offered an abridged one read by Simon Russell Beale so far.

Daniel Weyman is one of my favourite narrators and does his usual excellent job with Spanish accents as well as British ones. Oddly enough none of the characters is especially endearing, even the main one, who’s a bit of a wet blanket despite being a spy for British Intelligence in the Madrid embassy. Perhaps being boring is the best cover a spy should cultivate.

This doesn’t mar the overall experience of this very long story, which has an absorbing historical background of the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. As is usual in civil wars, both sides do unspeakable things and the main victims are the impoverished. The fact that General Franco held power for 40 years after the conflict is a depressing thought.

I recommend Dominion by Sansom if you haven’t read it. The Audible version is very good and once again the historical setting (1940s England living under German rule via a collaborationist government) makes it an absorbing read.

21 people found this helpful

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Fabulous

Gripping tale woven around the Spanish Civil War and World War 2. Listened to this as Putin was invading Ukraine, and innocent lives are being lost. Putin, Mussolini, Hitler, Franco, Stalin, and many more dictators destroying the people for their own glorification. Ring any bells much? Democracy must be treasured and guarded, or dictators will flourish again.

6 people found this helpful

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An entralling listen

I’ve enjoyed the author’s Shardlake series set in Tudor times and am glad to say that his foray in more modern times is similarly gripping. The backdrop of the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s duplicity in the Second World War make for an enthralling novel. Mixing fictitious and historical characters adds an added reality to an exciting, and at times heart-breaking, story. I felt drawn into the lives of the characters as they struggled to survive. It’s salutary to be reminded that within living memory three countries in Europe were Fascist dictatorships when a regime was determined to crush any opposition and curb human rights.

The narrator does a splendid job of bringing the characters to life

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This is not good

I took a bit of time to invest in the shardlake books and to be honest it paid off, they keep you for the most part tied in and while a little repetitive the historical links make it a worthwhile listen, I can’t connect with this though 5 hours in and I’m ready to ask for a refund I can’t decide yet if it’s the reader of the story or the writer but to be honest it feels like both poor story poorly told.

4 people found this helpful

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Recommend this unabridged version

For me, the 20 hours flew by and easily managed to hold my attention. I don’t follow the idea of abridging this kind of novel (well-paced thriller), except perhaps for readers who are very short on time.

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An epic tale

It helps to have a knowledge of Spain in that era, but not essential, as the story is so detailed as to transport you there. The characters are thoroughly believable and it's easy to buy into a story where the narration matches the writing. Effortlessly elegant, but also an exciting page-turner of which this a classic example. A jewel.

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TRAGEDY OF THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR AND ITS AFTERMATH

THIS BOOK EXPLAINS THE UNFINISHED BUSINESS OF THE GHASTLY CIVIL WAR. THE PART ENGLAND PLAYED IN MAKING IT POSSIBLE FOR THE RUSSIANS TO BECOME EMBROILED IS BOTH SAD AND REPREHENSIBLE. HOWEVER, AFTER THE BRUTALITY SHOWN BY BOTH SIDES WOULD IT REALLY HAVE BEEN ANY BETTER HAD THE REPUBLICANS STAYED IN POWER? ONE SIDE OR THE OTHER HAD TO TOTALLY DEFEAT THE OTHER FOR THERE TO BE ANY CHANCE OF PEACE, OTHERWISE THEY WOULD HAVE STAYED CONSTANTLY AT WAR. FRANCO COMING OUT ON TOP EVENTUALLY MEANT THAT SPAIN BECAME A DEMOCRATIC NATION AGAIN. HAD THE COMMUNISTS WON IT IS MOST UNLIKELY THAT THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO HAPPEN.

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Wow first spy novel I've listened to.

absolutely brilliant love the fact whilst it's fictional it is historically accurate 10 out of 10 all round. Couldn't stop listening from about chapter 20. Very emotional ending

1 person found this helpful

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Intense and Evocative

Fascinating, and horrifying insight into the Spanish civil war period.
Strong, complex and believable characters and narrative. Painful and upsetting to imagine the lives people had to live. A really strong sense of this being true history even though the fiction itself isn't.
Great book, good narration. Highly recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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  • The Forever Student
  • 01-01-20

Great adventure

Believable characters, a compelling story and insightful history, this one is really quite good. The reader is also very good. I read a review criticizing the characters as two-dimensional. I didn’t find this to be the case. For the genre, they are really well developed and I find their motives totally believable. Enjoy!

8 people found this helpful

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  • Norma Miles
  • 15-01-22

"No bread but they can throw flour."

Three boys attended a public school together, all very different in character. Winter in Madrid follows each man as, later in Spain, their lives interact as the shadow of Hitler's war dominates Europe.
Well written, with the characters well defined and believable, the horrifying story of unkindness unfolds against the background of terror and poverty. There is a brief synopsis at the end of the novel of the actual history of Spain under Franco, when this work is set, where the contrasts of daily life were so evident.
Narration is by Daniel Weyman, his reading impeccable, pace perfect, instilled with just the right touch of emotion and providing individual voicings for all of the protagonists. it was a very fine performance, greatly adding to the enjoyment of the book.
Emotional and touching on various aspects of human nature, and set in Spain, post Civil War, this is a very fine historical novel, beautifully read. Recommended.

2 people found this helpful

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  • barry
  • 26-03-21

World War2/Post Sp Civil War Grim Tapestry

Both the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath and World War 2 have served our contemporary imaginations in novel form. Actually I would give CJ Sansom's story a 3.5 star rating instead of a four mostly on the account of some of how its virtues played out. It does a vivid job of portraying the bleak situation for Spain in the first year of World War 2, the upshot of the various extremist cruelties of the civil war and what came after. But in doing so the central action of the story itself, fraught with the weight of moving toward its resolution at a glacial pace, feels lethargic. And at the same time while moving through its paces so ponderously and refusing to bring the plot to a satisfyingly melodramatic and romantic resolution, honestly enough, also does not really bring home the kind of tragedy, albeit tragic events occur, that might provide catharsis. And the epilogue, then, does a wash to the whole in a way suggesting the author really did not know the way out of the problem he had created for himself with his characters. Nonetheless, it is well detailed, and worth a listen, the main characters sympathetic, albeit sympathetic enough to have also been given better closure. History 4; characterizaions 3.5, story 3.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 23-09-20

winter in Madrid

loved the characters & story line. Ending seemed rushed & sudden which left me feeling disappointed but excellent read.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Vivian Grant
  • 28-07-22

Excellent

The narrator did justice to this beautifully crafted and riveting story. One of the best I’ve listened to in several years.

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  • Lynette Pearson
  • 16-04-22

Great story of love and betrayal.

This is a story of love and betrayal set against the backdrop of a Spain wracked by Civil War, and the scramble of politicians to place Spain in the best position at the start of the second World War. The plot and characters drags you along like a twig in a flooded river! It is impossible to leave for too long as the characters are whole and rounded and the plot is heart wrenching. It is a great book and the reader was great as well.

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  • Tropical Gal
  • 04-04-22

Worthwhile

The story is a somber but gripping tale of Spain in the early days of WWII. The narrator is first rate and provides a flawless performance. Highly recommended.