The Fountains of Silence

Ruta Sepetys

Short-listed for the 2021 Carnegie Award, this stirring young adult novel combines romance with a penetrating examination of Spain under Franco’s rule. Set in 1957, Ana, a hotel maid, is assigned to look after young American photographer Daniel who comes to Spain for the first time with his parents. Trying to get the perfect photo to win a top award, Daniel delves into Spanish life and sees at first hand how different life is to his own. 

Throughout this novel author Ruta Sepetys, deftly weaves facts about life in Spain at that time, as documented by American diplomatic staff, with a searing tale of love, betrayal and resilience. The contrasting descriptions of wealth and poverty, and in particular the stories of Spain’s missing children, drive home how apart Spain was from the rest of Europe at this time.

This is a superb historical novel, highly recommended to A-Level Spanish students for its political content, and to everyone else for the sheer power of its writing.

Published by Penguin

Reviewed by Rachel Bolton