By: Jordi Punti
Format/Source: Advanced reading copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster Canada
The prize-winning debut novel from a major new talent in Catalan literature—the story of four half-brothers who only discover the others’ existence when the father who abandoned them all is reported missing.
Christof, Christophe, Christopher, and Cristòfol are four brothers—sons of the same father and four very different mothers, yet none of them knows about the existence of the others. They live in Frankfurt, Paris, London, and Barcelona and they unwittingly share the fact that their father, Gabriel Delacruz—a truck driver—abandoned them when they were little and they never heard from him again.
Then one day, Cristòfol is contacted by the police: his father is officially a missing person. This fact leads him to discover that he has three half-brothers, and the four young men come together for the first time. Two decades have passed since their father last saw any of them. They barely remember what he was like, but they decide to look for him to resolve their doubts. Why did he abandon them? Why do all four have the same name? Did he intend for them to meet?
Divided by geography yet united by blood, the “Cristobales” set out on a quest that is at once painful, hilarious, and extraordinary. They discover a man who during thirty years of driving was able to escape the darkness of Franco’s Spain and to explore a luminous Europe, a journey that, with the birth of his sons, both opened and broke his heart.
I received an advanced reading copy of this novel courtesy of Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. The premise of this novel intrigued me–four stepbrothers living in four different countries with the same name–as well as the fact that it was written by a Spanish-Catalan author. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you might have picked up that I’m quite interested in Spanish literature and am always on the lookout for Spanish titles translated to English (because I’ve been meaning to learn Spanish but haven’t gotten around to it. Yet. But anyways). This novel will be available on October 15th.
By: Carmen Laforet
Eighteen-year-old Andrea moves to Barcelona to stay with relatives she has not seen in years while she pursues her dream of studying at university. Arriving in the dead of night she discovers not the independence she craves, but a crumbling apartment and an eccentric collection of misfits whose psychological ruin and violent behaviour echoes that of the recent civil war.
As the tension between the family members grows in claustrophobic intensity, Andrea finds comfort in a friendship with Ena, a girl from university whose gilded life only serves to highlight the squalor of Andrea’s own experiences. But what is the secret of the relationship between Ena and Andrea’s predatory uncle, Roman, and what future can lie ahead for Andrea in such a bizarre and disturbing world?
I’ve been looking forward to reading this book ever since I got my hands on it. As I mentioned in my Book Beginnings on Friday meme, I discovered it when the Book Depository featured Spain during its “12 Countries in 12 Days” special. Contains major spoilers ahead!
The Prisoner of Heaven
By: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Barcelona,1957. It is Christmas, and Daniel Sempere and his wife Bea have much to celebrate. They have a beautiful new baby son named Julian, and their close friend Fermín Romero de Torres is about to be wed. But their joy is eclipsed when a mysterious stranger visits the Sempere bookshop and threatens to divulge a terrible secret that has been buried for two decades in the city’s dark past. His appearance plunges Fermín and Daniel into a dangerous adventure that will take them back to the 1940’s and the dark early days of Franco’s dictatorship. The terrifying events of that time launch them on a journey fraught with jealousy, suspicion, vengeance, and lies, a search for the truth that will put into peril everything they love and ultimately transform their lives.
And here we are, the new book by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. As some of you may know, I had re-read The Angel’s Game (review) and The Shadow of the Wind (review) last week in preparation for reading this book. It’s part of a cycle that Zafon has written concerning the Cemetery of Forgotten Books so I wanted to rehash my memory of all of the characters connected to the cemetery before proceeding with the latest novel. Contains some spoilers ahead!
The Shadow of the Wind
By: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Barcelona, 1945–Just after the war, a great world city lies in shadow, nursing its wounds, and a boy named Daniel awakes one day to find that he can no longer remember his mother’s face. To console his only child, Daniel’s widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona’s guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again. Daniel’s father coaxes him to choose a book from the spiraling labyrinth of shelves, one that, it is said, will have a special meaning for him. And Daniel so loves the book he selects, a novel called The Shadow of the Wind by one Julián Carax, that he sets out to find the rest of Carax’s work. To his shock, he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book this author has written. In fact, he may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Before Daniel knows it, his seemingly innocent quest has opened a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets, an epic story of murder, magic, madness, and doomed love, and before long he realizes that if he doesn’t find out the truth about Julián Carax, he and those closest to him will suffer horribly.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that this was one of those books that I never got around to writing a review for but I wished I did, if only to keep track of what my initial thoughts of the book were. I decided to re-read it as a refresher before I venture on to reading The Prisoner of Heaven and just like the first time, I could not put this book down =P Contains spoilers ahead!
The Angel’s Game
By: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
In an abandoned mansion at the heart of Barcelona, a young man, David Martín, makes his living by writing sensationalist novels under a pseudonym. The survivor of a troubled childhood, he has taken refuge in the world of books and spends his nights spinning baroque tales about the city’s underworld. But perhaps his dark imaginings are not as strange as they seem, for in a locked room deep within the house lie photographs and letters hinting at the mysterious death of the previous owner.
Like a slow poison, the history of the place seeps into his bones as he struggles with an impossible love. Close to despair, David receives a letter from a reclusive French editor, Andreas Corelli, who makes him the offer of a lifetime. He is to write a book unlike anything that has ever existed-a book with the power to change hearts and minds. In return, he will receive a fortune, and perhaps more. But as David begins the work, he realizes that there is a connection between his haunting book and the shadows that surround his home.
I’ve actually reviewed this novel a few years ago when I first read it (review) but with the release of The Prisoner of Heaven i decided it was time to re-read the book (plus it was an overall excuse to get around to re-reading the books, lol). Contains some spoilers ahead!