I absolutely love Ruty Sepetys’s gripping and beautiful historical books. I cried my heart out while reading Salt to the Sea, her masterpiece about hardship, humanity, loss, love and survival during WWII. The Fountains of Silence is another beautiful, romantic, sad but hopeful, honest and gripping gem by Ruta Sepetys, even if it’s not quite as heart-breaking as her previous books. (Luckily, I would say. There is just so much heart-break you can take…) Ruta Sepetys is one of my favorite authors, and this book was no exception, just as her other books it touched my heart very deeply and the characters will stay with me for a long time.
The Fountains of Silence is set in Madrid, Spain, in 1957 and takes us on a journey into the dark and secret life under the fascist dictatorship of General Franco. The story is told from several POVs, but with the eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the aspiring photographer son of a Texas oil tycoon, and Ana Torres Moreno, who works as a maid at the hotel where Daniel and his parents are staying, as the two main characters. When Franco opens the door to American business men to invest in his country, the Mathesons take the chance to do oil business and to connect with the country of Daniel’s mother. Hoping to win a prestigious photography contest, Daniel tries to discover the real Spain through the lens of his camera with Ana as his guide. Via his encounters with Ana’s family and friends and their interweaving obstacles, Daniel (and we readers) learn more of the fears and hidden horrors and brutality of Franco’s Spain, including a parallel story of stolen babies.
I loved all of the characters in this book and the multiple POVs that truly brought the story to life. Daniel was such a sweetheart. So genuinely kindhearted, eager to learn and caring. And I completely rooted for Ana, wanting to rescue her from her hard and brutal reality. But there were so many other memorable and real characters in this book, Ana’s family members who all had at least two jobs each to try and keep the family together after their parents were executed by France, the bull fighter Fuga who dared to dream big, journalist Ben who became a mentor to Daniel, American ambassador son Nick with much more depth beneath his party animal impression and many others.
What I love about Ruty Sepetys’s books is that she always mixes the darkness with light, always shows the best and worst of humanity at the same time, always gives you so many wonderful characters you immediately fall in love with and hope and romance in the midst of the horrors.
All in all, this book was heartbreaking, beautiful, tragic, inspiring, painful, eye-opening and romantic at the same time. I recommend it with all my heart!
Find out more about the book and the author here: Ruta Sepetys