The Lines Between Us: A Novel

The Lines Between Us: A Novel

by Rebecca D'Harlingue


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In 1661 Madrid, Ana is still grieving the loss of her husband when her niece, sixteen-year-old Juliana, suddenly vanishes. Ana frantically searches the girl’s room and comes across a diary. Journeying to southern Spain in the hope of finding her, Ana immerses herself in her niece’s private thoughts. After a futile search in Seville, she comes to Juliana’s final entries, and, discovering the horrifying reason for the girl’s flight, abandons her search.

In 1992 Missouri, in her deceased mother’s home, Rachel finds a packet of letters, and a diary written by a woman named Juliana. Rachel’s reserved mother has never mentioned these items, but Rachel recognizes the names Ana and Juliana: her mother uttered them on her deathbed. She soon becomes immersed in Juliana’s diary, which recounts the young woman’s journey to Mexico City and her life in a convent. As she learns the truth about Juliana’s tragic family history, Rachel seeks to understand her connection to the writings—hoping that in finding those answers, she will somehow heal the wounds caused by her mother’s lifelong reticence.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

2020 Best Book Awards Finalist in Best New Fiction
2020 International Book Awards Finalist in Best New Fiction

“An ambitious, engaging novel that explores the power of finding personal connection to the past.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Author Rebecca D'Harlingue has crafted a truly beautiful work of epistolary fiction that takes us directly to the pens and minds of her characters. . . . Delving into Hispanic culture and history, this is clearly an incredibly well-researched novel with much to offer in its enthralling plotline, but also in an opportunity to expand our minds beyond typical family dramas. . . . What results is a highly personal, intelligent and emotive story that brings you closer to these women than you may think possible, ensuring that their tragedies and triumphs stay in your heart forever.”
Readers' Favorite

“This is a very well-written debut . . . and a fitting title incorporating the idea of generations of stories surviving within families.”
—Historical Novel Society

The Lines Between Us is a heartfelt and intelligent novel about love, family, and the ties that bind us to generations past.”
—Michael David Lukas, author of The Last Watchman of Old Cairo

“Rebecca D’Harlingue weaves a complex and fascinating tale, ranging from 17th-century elite Madrid, to a Mexican convent, to modern Missouri—a tale of honor and deception, of hidden pain and, eventually, forgiveness.”
—Martha Hoffman, author of Raised to Rule: Educating Royalty at the Court of the Spanish Habsburgs, 1601-1634

“In The Lines Between Us, D’Harlingue has created a captivating debut novel filled with unique characters, exquisite details, and intriguing family secrets. A diary and letters furtively passed down three hundred years from grandmother to granddaughter transport readers back in time and move them forward as the mysteries are elegantly revealed. This book is about women’s honor, overcoming heartache, and bravery.”
—Jill G. Hall, author of The Black Velvet Coat

“In her meticulously researched epistolary novel The Lines Between Us, Rebecca D’Harlingue weaves a tale of familial love, brutality, and sacrifice during the seventeenth-century Spanish Inquisition. D’Harlingue’s elegantly crafted, intriguing story spans the Old and New Worlds, exploring the oppression and power of generations of women bound together by a dark family secret—and their modern-day descendant’s quest to uncover the truth about her ancestry.”
—Kristen Harnisch, international best-selling author of The Vintner's Daughter and The California Wife

“Well-written and engaging, the tale rings true and affirms women’s strength, desire to be heard, and fierce love of family.”
—Linda Stewart Henley, author of Estelle

Kirkus Reviews

Stories, letters, and journals connect the tumultuous lives of several women in a single family over three centuries in this debut novel.

In a prologue set in 2014, Rachel Pearson Strand reflects on her mother’s enigmatic last words: “I am like Ana,” she says. “I have failed Juliana.” Those names, unfamiliar to Rachel, act as a springboard for D’Harlingue’s debut historical novel, which interweaves the lives of characters over multiple generations. In the first part, set in 1661 Madrid, Ana grieves her physician husband, Emilio Cardero Diaz, and helps her brother, also widowed, raise his 16-year-old daughter, Juliana, who’s never been told the truth about her mother’s death. The story unfolds in short, alternating chapters, each focusing on a different character, with many in diary or letter form. Ana discovers her late husband’s journal, which reveals his long-held desire to travel to the New World, and then finds Juliana’s diary, which she kept after she fled her childhood home. Her father had killed a man who’d raped her but then aimed to kill Juliana, as well, because he couldn’t bear the loss of “honor.” The book’s second part shifts to 1992, when Rachel, who’s pregnant, reveals to her dying mother that she’s about to have a girl. Rachel, who teaches Spanish at a university, later finds a packet of documents that continue Juliana’s story, including her escape to Mexico City and her life in a convent, which also shelters her daughter. D’Harlingue’s prose is languid and sure throughout this novel and especially effective at threading in intriguing details of 17th-century Spain and Mexico City, including the role of education in the lives of women. Ana, Juliana, and Rachel are all distinct characters, with Juliana’s journey the most compelling. However, the episodic, often epistolary plot structure somewhat slackens the tension and drama surrounding Juliana’s courageous life choices. The inclusion of each generation makes for a crowded closing section, as well. Nevertheless, the rhythms of these women’s lives are sure to resonate with readers.

An ambitious, engaging novel that explores the power of finding personal connection to the past.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781631527432
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication date: 09/08/2020
Pages: 376
Sales rank: 311,545
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)

Customer Reviews