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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



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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Free sample

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

Why I love it

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 MarieClaire.com.

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Member ratings (9,954)

  • Kaytee K.

    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.

  • Kelsey F.

    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.

  • Hannah P.

    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!

  • Devon F.

    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

  • Ashley G.

    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! ❤️