The Angel’s Game **** by Carlos Ruis Zafon
I’m joining Jain with my Edible Book Review at Food for Thought, where pages from your book magically mix with the kitchen and your camera.
I have more photos than would load easily in one post, so this Edible Review has two parts. There is a link at the bottom that will lead you to part two.
I enjoyed this book, perhaps because I hadn’t read The Shadow of the Wind, first, like a lot of other reviewers, so I wasn’t disappointed by comparison. Understanding from the jacket that it was a dark, gothic tale full of mystery, I dove right in and went along for the ride. I will admit that as the body count started piling up towards the end of the book, I found myself wondering what was really happening, like a lot of other readers, but I enjoyed it the same way you would enjoy an episode of the X-Files or Lost, until the very end when you say, “Huh?” A lot is left open to interpretation with this novel~ more questions asked than answered. I enjoyed it too due to the setting of Barcelona, which we visited last spring, which is what prompted me to read this book. As one reviewer put it, “the city of Barcelona in Zafon’s hands, is a living entity with multiple personalities.” Zafon’s writing is so evocative, with atmosphere dripping off the page, it’s hard to remember that it was originally written in Spanish, with the translator, Lucia Graves, to thank for the English version. I thought I’d blend my Barcelona photos I took on our trip (before I joined the blogging world :-) with this review.
From the author’s website:
“In an abandoned mansion at the heart of Barcelona, a young man, David MartÌn, 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 existed – a book with the power to change hearts and minds. In return, he will receive a fortune, perhaps more. But as David begins the work, he realises that there is a connection between this haunting book and the shadows that surround his home.
Set in the turbulent 1920s, THE ANGEL’S GAME takes us back to the gothic universe of the Cemetery of the Forgotten Books, the Sempere & Son bookshop, and the winding streets of Barcelona’s old quarter, in a masterful tale about the magic of books and the darkest corners of the human soul.”
“With no other family to my name but the dark city of Barcelona, the newspaper became my shelter and my universe. . .”
“A writer never forgets the first time he accepted a few coins or a word of praise in exchange for a story. He will never forget the sweet poison of vanity in his blood and the belief that, if he succeeds in not letting anyone discover his lack of talent, the dream of literature will provide him with a roof over his head, a hot meal at the end of the day, and what he covets the most: his name printed on a miserable piece of paper that will surely outlive him. A writer is condemned to remember that moment, because from then on he is doomed and his soul has a price.
“The whole of Barcelona stretched out at my feet and I wanted to believe that when I opened those windows–my new windows–each evening its streets would whisper stories to me, secrets in my ear, that I could catch on paper and narrate to whomever cared to listen.”
“Moonlight licked the outline of the dragon that presided over the staircase.”
“Closing my eyes for a moment, I conjured up an image, a cloak of dark clouds spilling down over the city in the rain, a man walking under cover of shadows with blood on his hands and a secret in his eyes. I didn’t know who he was or what he was fleeing from, but during the next six hours he was going to become my best friend. I slid a page into the typewriter and without pausing, I proceeded to squeeze out everything I had inside me. I quarreled with every word, every phrase ad expression, every image and letter as if they were the last I was ever going to write.”
“The carts with meat and fish, ice and spices were beginning to accumulate opposite the large marketplace.”
Extra Dulce :-)
“Jams, sweets and teas. Coffees, and spices, and tinned food. Fruit and cured meats. Chocolates and smoked ham.
A Pantagruelian paradise for those with well-lined pockets.”
MartÌn reluctantly takes on a young, aspiring writer as an assistant, Isabella, whose father has a market, selling among other things~ Manchego cheese. . .
Marinated Manchego with Olives, recipe courtesy Coastal Living, here
“Wandering about aimlessly, my feet led my uphill until I reached the building site of the Sagrada Familia.”
A marvel of engineering~ under construction since 1882, estimated year of completion 2026.
“Dawn was breaking when I arrived: the towers of the Nativity facade stood in silhouette against the blue sky, scythed by red light.”
Not alot of food inspiration for food for thought, unless I was willing to cook carmelized duck or oxtail stew, so I went to a book I picked up shortly after our trip. . .
Granissat De Cava
“Liquid” Granita of Sparkling Wine
To see part two of this review, look here.
Oh my gosh, I dream to be able to shop regularly at a market like that. THAT FRUIT, those strawberries…and those grapes…all of it. That church is something to see also. Unbelievable.
oh i am so excited to see you review this book! i have had it on my list a looooooooong time, just seeing the video is enough to drive me wild! and now to kick back and enjoy barcelona thru your eyes… i love that city, we went on our honeymoon.
just as i knew, i was totally enthralled by you again… i uttered out loud omg when the tossed cheese turned into your delish jar of beauty…
and la sagrada familia, i could live there, i had to be yanked out against my will… plus i went so long ago, you had so much more to enjoy as they constantly work on it! my heart is thumping, heck if i don’t get to travel its still great to see it through others eyes! breathtaking….
thanks for skipping the oxtails and duck, i prefer your new offerings :-)
damn you are soooooooooo good at your reviews, you just send me over the moon!
Mary, what a yummy review! I’ve not been to Barcelona, but it is on our list. Viewing the video was great, but seeing Barcelona through the lens of your camers was fantastic. I’m off to read Part II. ~ sarah
Ooooo, Mary…thanks for taking us along on your trip to Barcelona! Those photos of La Bouqueria is exquisite!!!
Normally, I hate those pop-up links on wordpress but this time, they were very helpful in further understanding of what I was seeing.
Such mystery & intrigue…
LOVED the quote about being paid for your words….so true!
I saved the photo of your granita recipe for future reference. ;-) Thanks! Love how you captured the frosty condensation on the glass.
Laughing about the running out of bullets and throwing cheese instead! :) LOVED seeing all these photos of lovely Barcelona. I have never been but always fascinated. So much to see in your photos. Thank you!