I'm still coming down from the emotional roller coaster ride of this book. It made me alternate between laughing and crying, then I was plunged into feelings of dread and doom as I watched/read scenes that reminded me of Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury.
Then the novel, for me, descended into horror, which the tidy ending doesn't much dispel.
I think the author may have intended to evoke these feelings, his characters reflecting a side of Barcelona and Spain during and after the Civil War, and during the repressive Franco dictatorship. I can't decide if it's a four or a five star read. I gave it the benefit of the doubt, despite or because of the feeling of awesome dread that the book left me with.
This excerpt, central to the plot, can probably give a sense of the atmosphere and mood in the novel that precipitates the catastrophic events.
"Sophie had only to exchange one look with Don Ricardo Aldaya to know she was doomed. Aldaya had wolfish eyes, hungry and sharp, the eyes of a man who knew where and when to strike. He kissed her hand slowly, caressing her knuckles with his lips. Just as the hatter exuded kindness and warmth, Don Ricardo radiated cruelty and power." p. 380.Book lovers will like the basic story, of a boy who discovers a fascinating book and sets out to find out about the author Julian Carax and the reason Carax's books are being systematically sought out and destroyed. What he finds are the stories of a group of boys who attended the same elite Catholic school years before, how the boys' lives intertwined and even collided over the years, and the mystery and tragedy that resulted.
I found these stories powerful and intriguing, the writing and characterizations excellent. I read all 487 pages in three days! The novel was translated from the Spanish by Lucia Graves.
Submitted for the
Lost in Translation Reading Challenge.