Winter in Madrid by C.J. Sansom

I read the whole Matthew Shardlake series and enjoyed it. Winter in Madrid by C.J. Sansom is a stand alone novel, its history happening after the Spanish Civil War, in 1940. I had a short chat about the book with my tutor and he knows the book and the author and said that in general the picture depicted is historically accurate. I like that in historical fiction books.

The book starts a bit slow, but when our hero, Harry Brett, arrives in Spain things get much better. I don’t understand why Sansom felt the need for Brett to have some health issues, just as Shardlake had (other issues, but not exactly related to the story). He gets involved, as a spy, with an old school friend, Sandy Forsyth. Meanwhile Forsyth’s girlfriend, Barbara Clare is on a secret mission to find her lover Bernie Piper, a Communist from the International Brigades who is still alive, but believed to have died in the battle at Jarama. There are twists and turns and it is very interesting. The descriptions of Spain are also so vivid and interesting. I’ve enjoyed it.

Winter in Madrid by C.J. Sansom

The only thing that was a let down was the end, in the last few pages of the epilogue there is another twist which, from my point of view, is one too many. In this situation I think a “less is more” approach would have been better. As it was so late in the story, I didn’t take a star out for this, especially as I’ve enjoyed the other 500+ pages.

I would highly recommend the book, but I also highly recommend to skip the epilogue.

Winter in Madrid by C.J. Sansom

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: Pan Books
Year it was published: 2006
Format: Paperback
Genre(s): Fiction – Historical
Pages: 549

About the author: Christopher John Sansom is an English writer of crime novels. Born in 1952, he gained a BA and a PhD in history at the University of Birmingham. He worked as a solicitor, in Sussex, before deciding to work as a full-time writer.
He is known for his series of mystery historical fiction novels taking place in the 16th century. The main character is hunchbacked lawyer Matthew Shardlake. An adaptation of Dissolution is commissioned by the BBC and the others might follow. Winter in Madrid is a thriller set in 1940 Spain and deals with the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War.
Matthew Shardlake series: Dissolution, Dark Fire, Sovereign, Revelation, Heartstone, Lamentation, Tombland.
Website & Social Media Links: –

6 thoughts on “Winter in Madrid by C.J. Sansom”

  • This is one I read years ago, also being a huge fan of the Shardlake books, but I didn’t love this as much. I always put that down to my lack of knowledge about the period though, so I’ve got it on my list for a re-read once I understand the history better. Glad to see you recommend it so highly!

  • Hi Anca,

    Sansom is a popular author amongst my friends and colleagues, however I’m afraid that I am not a fan of these ‘chunkster’ reads, as my TBR pile is so high that I really do need to knock quite a few off very quickly. Maybe if I didn’t over-commit quite so much, I could relax and immerse myself in one of these lengthy tales.

    I have discovered that I quite enjoy accurately fictionalised historical events and memoirs, so my range of reading genres is expanding all the time.

    I have finished a book where there are a few too many twists in the storyline, so I can see where you are coming from with the ‘less is more’ approach. I do like a good red herring or two in a story, but if the author tries to be too clever, it can easily all become a bit muddled for the reader!

    Thanks for sharing and enjoy your next book 🙂

    Yvonne xx

    • His books are long, but also very interesting, so, for me worth the effort. The funny thing is that in my first year at uni I studied Tudor, which was the period in his Shardlake series, and now I’m reading on Spanish civil war, which is, more or less, in this book. I can say that I’m reading for university when I’m enjoying a fun fiction book, how lovely is that.

  • I’m glad to hear your opinion on this one. Loving the Shardlake novels as much as I do, I’ve often considered reading this.
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    • I think you’d enjoy this one too. It’s very similar to his other books in a way, but because the story is from 1940 and a bit before that, it’s also different. It’s worth reading, but the beginning is a bit slow, so keep that in mind.

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