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In the Night of Time Hardcover – December 3, 2013

3.9 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* It is 1936. War-weary Spanish architect Ignacio Abel travels—from Valencia to France to New York and then, finally, by train into the wooded Hudson Valley—to a lifesaver of an academic job at a small upstate university. And, he hopes, to a reunion with Judith Biely, the American woman with whom he had a passionate extramarital affair in Madrid a year earlier and for whom he has been searching, constantly, since she didn’t appear at their usual rendezvous spot in crumbling, war-frantic Madrid. He has escaped the war, it would appear, but he is alone, near broke, and haunted by memories and regrets. His tailored European suits are frayed and out of place. As in A Manuscript of Ashes (2008), Molina is interested in the legacy of violence and the messy interplay between the past and the present. Although more traditional in its form than some of his earlier works, this selection covers a lot of ground rather slowly (paying considerable attention to, for example, the bourgeois trappings of Ignacio and his conservative wife, Adela) and tends to circle back repeatedly to key events and images. Readers who persist will be rewarded with a large rough-cut gem of a story that lingers in one’s mind. Molina recently won the Jerusalem Prize and the Asturias Prize, and he appears to be finally getting the international attention he deserves. --Brendan Driscoll

Review

"Spellbinding…What distinguishes In the Night of Time—what makes it eye-openingly new—is its meticulous reconstruction of Spain in 1936, its attention to detail, its fusion of history and imagination, its tension between love’s surrender and war’s stiff resolve. Let me put it this way: Antonio Muñoz Molina’s novel is one of the most eloquent monuments to the Spanish Civil War ever to be raised in fiction." —Marie Arana, Washington Post

"Labyrinthine and spellbinding…one of the most eloquent monuments to the Spanish Civil War ever to be raised in fiction." --The Washington Post, Best Fiction Books of 2014

"A vast, architectural novel." —NPR.org

"Sweeping, magisterial...An astonishingly vivid narrative that unfolds with hypnotic intensity by means of the constant interweaving of time and memory...In the Night of Time is Tolstoyan in its scale, emotional intensity and intellectual honesty." —The Economist

"What is remarkable about the book, despite the emphasis on the private and the shadowy, is how much Muñoz Molina manages to say about the world itself and how hypnotic his narrative becomes as he slows down time...He can have his protagonist contemplate his own past in slow and searching tones; he can have him consider his lover's body with mesmeric grace; he can have him ponder his need to escape with urgency; he can have him consider architecture with originality...Muñoz Molina, in all his fiction, has a sense of the past as a living force, darting, shifting, haunting, impossible to pin down...In In the Night of Time he brings this perception further, allowing the most private inner moments to have greater importance than the war outside, and he approaches character with even greater tenderness, allowing for every type of weakness." —Colm Toibin, New York Review of Books

"An epic…Molina’s cogent examination of war on a scale both large and small reaffirms his place as a giant of Europe’s literary scene, well-worth being discovered by American readers." —The Daily Beast

"A story of love, violence, and politics…[In the Night of Time] echoes Molina’s earlier works, including the much-praised A Manuscript of Ashes." —The New Yorker

"Epic…In the Night of Time gives its subject the space it deserves and renders it vibrantly with intoxicating prose." —Entertainment Weekly

"A fascinating read." —Typographical Era

"A sweeping, mesmerizing tale that weaves seamlessly between Spain and America, present and past, personal and political." —Bustle.com

"Superb…A simple love story at one level, a broad portrait of a nation in flames at another, and a masterwork through and through." —Kirkus (starred review)

"A War and Peace for the Spanish Civil War, this classically sweeping novel from Molina (A Manuscript of Ashes) follows a large cast of characters, intermingling real and fictional figures, through times of both peaceful routine and grotesque violence." —Publishers Weekly

"A large rough-cut gem of a story that lingers in one’s mind. [Molina] appears to be finally getting the international attention he deserves." —Booklist (starred review)

“Antonio Munoz Molina's In The Night of Time is a sweeping love story enveloped by the horrors of the Spanish Civil War…In this monumental book, Molina has described with brutal honesty the atrocities committed on both sides of the war.” – Charleston Post and Courier

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (December 3, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547547846
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547547848
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #593,831 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In the Night of Time is a brilliant novel firmly in the modern school. Molina has a gift "for imagining what other people are living or have lived through." (That is a line from the novel lifted from the character Van Doren which I take as Molina's assessment of his own ability.) He uses a extremely sophisticated narrative scheme, which follows the thoughts the main character, the architect Ignacio Abel as he rides a passenger railroad from New York City to a college in the woods. The narrative unfolds through a series of Abel's memories. However, in the almost dream like structure of the narrative, Molina shifts the narrative focus from Abel to other characters such as his wife Adela, his lover Judith Biely, his son, his father-in-law, etc.; these technically difficult point-of-view narrative shifts have the great advantage of creating exceptionally convincing psychological character studies.

The book works at one level as a reverse Portrait of a Lady, with the focus on the European lover, in this case a Spaniard, rather than the young American woman. Molina indicates he is aware of this homage by his somewhat ironic references to Henry James and Isabel Archer. At another, it is a panoramic recreation of Spain on the cusp of revolution, with people from different segments of society--the traditional Catholic, the bourgeois, the proletariat and the artistic--imaginatively and sympathetically recreated. In a sense, the character Ignacio Abel represents a modern Spain almost stillborn in the wake of Franco's revolt.

Molina has asked several interesting and crucial questions. He has imaginatively recreated what it meant to live in Spain before the Civil War and what it meant to live through the terror that gripped Madrid after Franco's Army began advancing through southern Spain.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"In the Night of Time" is far from an easy, thrilling read. It requires slow reading due to the multiple-page paragraphs, the shifts in time and the introspection. It moves slowly through events: Ignacio`s train ride from New York to Burton College takes many pages, as the author shifts from landscape to reminiscence about Ignacio`s family in Spain; the first meetings between Ignacio and Judith take many pages, as details of context and perspective are meticulously described; likewise the lunches with Adela`s family; and the horror of Madrid`s streets at the start of the war. Readers looking for ˜entertaining page turners", "light summer reads"or who "read this for my discussion group" will likely be severely frustrated

But for me the effort paid in full. This is phenomenal literature by an author at his height. If Munoz Molina wrote in English he would be of the stature of Hillary Mantel. I emphatically recommend this novel. But the effort required to enjoy and appreciate it is not dissimilar to that for "Wolf Hall", and neither is the reward.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a novel with epic ambition and real challenges for the reader. Mostly set in the mid-1930s, it's the story of a Spanish architect whose one true passion in life is his work--until a young American woman visiting Madrid pushes him into a total about face.

The novel is told in densely written vignettes that jump back and forth through periods of the man's life, so attention must be paid to keep up with the thrust of the plot. The hefty and often rich substance of the story (largely narrative) is what makes it worth plowing through the 600-plus pages of the book, which are heavily populated with un-indented paragraphs that frequently caused my mind to wander. That challenge notwithstanding, "In the Night of Time" very effectively and convincingly evokes the political chaos of 1930s Spain, the fraying of Spanish society, and the crumbling of the protagonist's well-ordered architect's life and his subsequent reaction to a middle-aged obsession.

Not an easy book to read, but worth the effort for this reader.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Spanish Civil War deserves such a huge, sweeping, beautifully written book as In the Night of Time. No war is black and white, none easily reduced or condensed into a small novel, a one-dimensional work incapable of doing it justice. What Molina has accomplished here is as complete an encapsulation as can be imagined, expanding the situations, causes and repercussions of a war that occurs within, ripping a nation apart. Yet, the method he uses to do this takes the perspective of a series of moments, often beautiful and life-affirming. This is not a work of historical fiction, not a straight or chronological novel. Instead, Molina uses a love story, a tale of how times of war draw lovers closer together, in order to bring home the most basic human emotions and how times of extreme duress threaten to shatter the only human relationships that matter. He slows down time, allowing the reader to see into the souls of his characters, while outside the war rages.

It may be argued Molina cannot approach Tolstoy but it's not out of line comparing this novel to War and Peace. Though distinctly different in culture, time period and the players involved, a war is a war. There is violence and death alongside love and life. This does not change. As much as War and Peace is the seminal work on the Napoleonic Era, it could be argued Molina's novel has done the same service to the Spanish Civil War. Molina's work is told in caressing, romantic language, whereas Tolstoy's voice is, of course, very different. However, the truths are the same.

A magnificent work.
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