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All booksHistorical fictionThe Fountains of Silence
The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys
Historical fiction

The Fountains of Silence

by Ruta Sepetys

Quick take

Like a juicy history lesson. Unearth a hidden time in Spain full of hardship, family duty, and scandal.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Romance


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_ForbiddenLove

    Forbidden love

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Teen


Why I love it

Danielle McNally
Features Editor,

When I read, I want to be transported. To another place, to another time, to a world I never could have experienced on my own. In Ruta Sepetys’s latest, The Fountains of Silence, I was taken to a sepia-toned summer in 1950s Spain. The entire time I was reading (which wasn’t long, since I flew through the 475-page novel in three days), I felt as if I, too, were walking the cobblestoned streets of Madrid, the heat of the late afternoon sun on my shoulders.

That said, this time period wasn’t a particularly pleasant one—at least, not if you were Spanish. Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: Daniel, a 19-year-old Spanish-American aspiring photographer, is staying with his wealthy parents at the Castellana Hilton (a real place!). There he meets Ana, a young maid who, along with her siblings, has struggled to make ends meet since her Republican parents were punished for their views. I love historical fiction, particularly stories about World War II, but I’d never read anything about how that seismic event played out in Spain. Through the stories of Ana, Daniel, and the many characters they encounter, Sepetys educated me about a point in modern history that has been largely ignored by popular media.

Though there’s no murder or heist, The Fountains of Silence plays out like a mystery. But rather than trying to solve a crime, you, reader, are tasked with uncovering what happened to the characters before the book began. And just like any good mystery, there are twists and reveals down every alleyway and in every whispered secret. This book is as much about life under Generalissimo Franco as it is about young love, bullfighting, swaggering Americans abroad, and family obligations. Hope you’ve got your passport, because you’re about to go on one hell of a trip to Spain.


The Fountains of Silence is also the October pick for Marie Claire’s virtual book club, #ReadWithMC: a space for women who love books—by women!—and love talking about them, but prefer to do so from the comfort of their couch. Share your review of the book using the hashtag #ReadWithMC by October 28 for a chance to be featured on

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Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming guise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of a Texas oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother's birth through the lens of his camera. Photography—and fate—introduce him to Ana, whose family's interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War—as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel's photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.

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Get an early look from the first pages of The Fountains of Silence.

Member thoughts

All (7418)
All (7418)
Love (5176)
Like (2014)
Dislike (228)
7627 ratings
  • 68% Love
  • 26% Like
  • 3% Dislike
  • Raleigh, NC

    This is the best book that I have read in YEARS. I truly didn’t want it to end, and I’ve brought this story up in my daily conversations. I couldn’t put this book down and I can’t recommend it more.

  • Lexington, KY

    Ok, this book will forever have a place in my heart, I don’t think I’ve EVER loved a book as much as I love this one. It’s so beautifully written and every detail weaves into one another. I RECOMMEND!

  • Oceanside, CA

    It broke my heart and then put it all back together. ❤️ A wonderful portrayal of Spain’s history through many perspectives. I want to go back to Spain one day to see it through these different lenses.

  • Clermont, FL

    I’ve never been into hist fict but LOVED this! Very interesting to learn the history and you’re very invested in the characters. Some parts break your heart, especially since they’re historically true

  • Cando, ND

    This book really took you as the reader into a whole world that most people havent had to experience. It really makes you like and appreciate what you have to be thankful for in your life. Love it! ❤️

  • Honolulu, HI

    I was so attached and still am attached to Ana and Daniel’s friendship & how it grew. I liked the offer of different perspectives, but I wish there was a bit more to Rafa and Julia’s story. BUT I LOVE

  • Woodbury , NJ

    This is a beautiful book that really makes you think about the consequences of systematic silenacing. This is more than just a love story. Its an argument to not let the wrongs done stay unspoken. 5⭐️

  • West Chester, OH

    This was an amazing read. The size was a bit daunting when I received it, but the story within is so beautiful, it needed the space. I loved learning about Franco’s Spain and Ruta’s writing was superb

  • Justice, IL

    Ruta Sepetys is my new favorite author! She put 8 years of research into this book!! I learned so much about this secret part of Spain’s history. Fiction based on fact with a strong love story! ❤️

  • Fayetteville, AR

    WOW. Didn’t expect to love this book but was hooked around the fifth chapter. I’m beginning to discover a love for historical fiction and I think a lot of that could be contributed to this book! 10/10

  • Charlotte, NC

    Wow. History is beautifully weaved into this fictional story. I’m enlightened by the novel and captivated by the story. I was absolutely heartbroken when I finished it because I didn’t want it to end.

  • Tulsa, OK

    Quote: "Truth breaks the chains of silence." Puri puts a trembling hand to her chest. Her voice drops to a whisper. "It sets us all free." ------‐---------------------------- ???? What this book is abou

  • Birmingham, AL

    This is a beautiful story illustrating life in Franco’s Spain. It’s a fast read with memorable characters. It definitely sparked an interest to learn more about the Spanish Civil War & its aftermath.

  • Odenton, MD

    There’s so much I didn’t know about Spain, and Sepetys did a great job of tying history into the story. I loved hearing the story from the different perspectives, it kept me rooting for all of them!

  • Largo, FL

    This was the most capticating book I have read in a long time. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, but sometimes it’s hard to find the right book: this was definitely the ‘right book’.

  • North Haledon , NJ

    So moving I didn’t want to put it down. Love, heartbreak, loss- all within a time period I did not know anything about. I loved how the authors included real documents and photos from the time period

  • Fort Wayne, IN

    Wow—I read this book in basically one day. I knew very little about Franco or the Spanish Civil War and absolutely loved learning through Sepety’s compelling writing and cast of genuine characters.

  • Wallington, NJ

    One of the best books I read this year. I couldn’t put it down, I just had to know what happened next. Historical fiction is my favorite genre, I loved this story and the way the characters connect.

  • Austin, TX

    I have been a Ruta fan since her first book. I had little knowledge of Spain in the 1950s and really didn’t know much about the Franco regime. This novel shares hope, fear, and resilience all in one.

  • Tampa, FL

    I’m fascinated by Spain and its history. So this was the perfect book for me to read. I was interested in all the characters. The switch between dazzling America and the poverty in Spain was excellent

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