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About The Book

“Pérez-Reverte summons the romantic spirit of an old black-and-white movie: impossibly glamorous, undeniably wistful.” – Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“An intoxicating entertainment, pulsing with life.”— Booklist (starred review)

“Sparkling with witty dialogue, this elegantly translated thriller is enthusiastically recommended to sophisticated readers and those who wish to be.” – Library Journal (starred review)

In 1928, aboard the Cap Polonio—a lavish transatlantic cruise ship bound for Buenos Aires—Max Costa locks eyes with Mecha Inzunza across the first-class ballroom. They are an unlikely match. He is a thief, sleek and refined, hired to dance with unaccompanied passengers. She is the elegant wife of an accomplished composer, accustomed only to luxury. But as they embrace in a fiery tango, a steamy and dangerous love affair ignites—following them from the ship’s gentle sways in the Atlantic night to the seedy decadence of Buenos Aires. Yet as quickly as their affair begins, the two lovers are torn apart.

In Nice, 1937, Max and Mecha’s lives intersect for a second time and they rekindle their dalliance with ease. But in the wake of a perilous mission gone awry, Mecha looks after her charming paramour until a deadly encounter with a Spanish spy forces Max to flee.

Decades later in Sorrento at the height of the Cold War, Max once again runs into trouble—and Mecha. Their attraction is undeniable but with KGB agents on Max’s trail, the small glimmer of hope is becoming increasingly dim.

A mesmerizing tale of love and adventure, espionage and honor, What We Become is Arturo Pérez-Reverte at his finest, with elegant prose reminiscent of his beloved novel, The Club Dumas. Sweeping through time and across borders, What We Become proves that love, much like a great novel, is timeless and enduring.

About The Author

Photograph by Victoria Iglesias

Arturo Pérez-Reverte is the #1 internationally bestselling author of many critically acclaimed novels, including The Club DumasThe Queen of the South, and The Siege, which won the International Dagger Award from the Crime Writers’ Association. A retired war journalist, he lives in Madrid and is a member of the Royal Spanish Academy. His books have been translated into more than forty languages and have been adapted to the big screen.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (June 7, 2016)
  • Length: 464 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781476752006

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Raves and Reviews


"Mr. Pérez-Reverte is an accomplished storyteller, and anyone nostalgic for the lost, elegant days when people dressed for dinner and a tuxedo was obligatory in casinos will find much to delight them here...This thoroughly enjoyable novel cries out to be made into a movie."

– The Wall Street Journal

"[a] riveting and intricately layered historical novel."

– O Magazine

“Sparkling with witty dialogue, this elegantly translated thriller is enthusiastically recommended to sophisticated readers and those who wish to be.”

– Library Journal, Starred Review

“Perez-Reverte summons the romantic spirit of an old black-and-white movie: impossibly glamorous, undeniably wistful.”


"Pérez-Reverte, who has written of women and adventure before, along with crime and betrayal,combines them all here in a hypnotic rhapsody of a novel that drinks freely from many genres: historical epic, Hitchcockian thriller, and, above all, grand love story, both heartbreaking and deliciously sexy. Pérez-Reverte masterfully,excruciatingly, jumps back and forth between the three encounters, playing the reader’s emotions masterfully and creating as much tension through the love story as through the derring-do and the betrayals that stain both. An intoxicating entertainment, pulsing with life but, at the same time, with a kind of damp, hidden lament for all that was and is no more.”

– Booklist, starred review

Part of Oprah's "6 Love Stories You Won't Be Able to Put Down" list:

"This riveting, intricately layered historical novel follows two paramours: Mesha is the beautiful wife of a famous composer, and Max is a charming con artist and spy. Their illicit affair begins aboard a luxury liner traveling from Lisbon to Buenos Aires."

– Oprah's Book Club

"This book is a masterpiece. It reads like a classic film. The story moves effortlessly between the dance halls of 1920s Buenos Aires, to a chess tournament in 1960s Italy, and back to Nice in the '30s. Max, a gentleman thief,meets Mecha, the beautiful wife of a famous composer, when he's working as a ballroom dancer on an ocean liner. It's his job to keep escorted women entertained. As you read, you can practically here the music as they are dancing. Their paths cross several more times in the intervening years, each time leaving its mark on them and their shared histories. As two of his capers escalate you find Max in two different nail biting moments at the same time, each making you turn pages faster and faster. WHAT WE BECOME does what Arturo Pérez-Reverte does best. He transports you to another place in time, and leaves you feeling nostalgic when the the book ends."

– John Kwiatkowski, Murder By The Book

Praise for International Bestselling Author, Arturo Pérez-Reverte:

“John le Carre meets Gabriel Garcia Marquez…”

– –The Wall Street Journal

“Few contemporary writers conjure up derring-do as well as well as Arturo Pérez-Reverte.”

– – The Christian Science Monitor

“Pérez-Reverte’s literary thriller explodes withhistory, heartbreak [and] determination…”

– – Entertainment Weekly

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