Buenos días amigos!
Today I would like to introduce you to a character whom I have grown to love and who is not too well known beyond the Spanish frontier: Sira Quiroga. For those who do not know her, she first came to being in Maria Dueñas’s absolutely magnificent novel, originally known as El Tiempo Entre Costuras, or The Time Between Seams.
This book, which has been adapted into an award-winning television program on Antena 3 in Spain by the same name, is unlike any other narrative I have come across before, and those are words I do not type lightly. It transfixes, transports and immerses all at the same time, despite the fact that, in English (at this present moment I am, sadly, no great shakes at Spanish), it’s not terribly well written. In this entry, I am going to do something almost unorthodox: I am going to write about the television show (which happens to be entirely in Spanish with Spanish subtitles…) more than the book itself. Shocking, right? I know! Here’goes…
El Tiempo Entre Costuras tells the story of the Madrid-born seamstress, Sira Quiroga, who, after being swept off her feet by the charming (and extremely illusive) Ramiro Arribas, travels to Tangier, Morocco, leaving Madrid and consequently her mother, her friends, her job and her fiancé, Ignacio. However, Ramiro is a charlatan, and leaves Sira pregnant in Tangier after taking her for everything she has; she then travels to Tetuan, where, having lost her child, she makes a life for herself as a seamstress as the Spanish Civil War rages in her hometown, befriending the ever wonderful Rosalinda Fox, who eventually leads her to her most impactful ‘job’ in the novel: as a spy for the British in Madrid during the Second World War. That is, in as small a nutshell as possible, a synopsis.
What really struck me about the depiction of Sira’s story was the way the viewer/reader is transported to 1930s Madrid and Morocco, especially in the television adaptation, through the filming on location and César Benito’s masterful music, in particular the songs Candelaria “La Matutera” and En Marruecos, the latter of which for me truly encapsulates the feeling of Tangier. Having visited myself and being descended from that town (as well as Spain and Tetuan), to see the place in which my grandmother grew up in as it was is a priceless thing: the vibrant colours of the Shuk, the dusty roads, the exquisite architecture, and the culture so embroidered with the Spanish influences which I have grown up surrounded by, not to mention the characters, which somehow feel so familiar, as though they are family.
I am unable to put into words just how immersive, engaging and truly stunning the way Dueñas, Benito and the entire cast and crew of El Tiempo Entre Costuras present the places in which the narrative is set; so take a look for yourself in Spanish or in English. I do, despite whatever leniencies I may have created in focusing this post on the television adaptation, recommend the book, in both its original form and its English translation, as either way the transportation is untouched and unrivaled.
So, after what appears to be some unhindered rambling (which I hope has conveyed my love for El Tiempo Entre Costuras), I would like to end this post with one of my favourite quotes from the book:
“Marcus y yo nos mantuvimos siempre al otra lado de la historia, activamente invisibles en aquel tiempo que vivimos entre costuras.”
(and for all you non-Spanish speaking people like me):
“Marcus and I always kept to the other side of the story, actively invisible at that time we lived between seams.”
Adiós y hasta la próxima!