Saturday, 14 November 2009

Epic Audiobook

Finished November 13
Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones, translated by Nick Caistor, read by Paul Michael
This long (18 CD) book is a gripping tale that follows the lives Bernard Estanyol and his son Arnau. Bernard was born a serf, and when his father dies his lord takes advantage of numerous rights that enrage and frustrate Bernard.
As a last resort he and his infant son Arnau escape to Barcelona, where they take refuge with Bernard's sisters family, a family that Bernard and his father helped to be successful as potter artisans. The city is just beginning two large building projects, a cathedral and the church of Santa Maria de la Mar. Santa Maria is a church built by the people for the people and this book also revolves around its construction.
As a boy, Arnau joins the guild of men who transport goods, the bastaixos. This guild also hauls stones from the quarry to Santa Maria to be used to build the church and Arnau becomes a true member of the guild by hauling his first stone.
In the various times of crisis the city faces, Arnau survives severe hunger, joins the king's army, and defends Jews attacked by prejudiced zealots. He becomes a successful and respected member of the community.
When he is betrayed and brought on charges before the Inquisition, he learns who his true friends are and how much Barcelona has become his home.
I learned a lot of history here, but in a very entertaining way. The book offers moments of hearbreak and hope and I am not surprised it was so successful in Spain. It won the Euskadi de Plata 2006 for the best novel in Spanish, the Que Leer 2007 Prize for the best book, as well as the Italian Giovanni Boccaccio 2007 award for the best foreign author. It has been published in thirty-two countries.

No comments:

Post a Comment