Karen's Reviews > Cathedral of the Sea

Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones
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's review
Jan 02, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: didn-t-finish

I gave up on this book at page 252 of 600. The very beginning was pretty interesting, and I found the character of a young man essentially raising his baby alone (with his remote wife) as a successful medieval serf in pastoral Spain very compelling. I liked the stuff through the pottery workshop, too, but after that? It felt to me like the story dropped off for the sake of cramming a historical setting with stock characters to represent different aspects of life in 14th Century Barcelona. There was little narrative suspense or tension, and the book rapidly turned into an episodic adventure. For all that the novel is touted as portraying a time and a place, it does neither. And when the characters are given a few lines of dialogue, it serves only to do the author's work for him. They don't talk like anyone real.

There are many places that the story could be developed: the community of the bastaixos, the relationship of Joan and Arnau, regional warfare, restrictions on women. The author just glosses over everything. The sentences are written well enough, and the prose is readable enough, but there's no real reason to keep reading the book. It lacks substance. It's like Moll Flanders--Arnau just goes from place to place, getting more and more successful but with very few insights into what he thinks or feels. He's a puppet. They're all puppets. At least Moll Flanders makes some coy statements about her contemporary era, which are interesting to read in the modern era. Cathedral lacks even that authenticity.

I like my characters to do a little more thinking and my authors to do a lot less spoonfeeding. If you love Barcelona or the Santa Maria del Mar church, or have a particular interest in the period, you would probably like this book. I think you'd be better off reading a really good non-fiction book on the topic, though. Maybe there aren't any yet.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
December 31, 2008 – Finished Reading
January 2, 2009 – Shelved
January 2, 2009 – Shelved as: didn-t-finish

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Nuria (new)

Nuria Im from barcelona and i'm at the half of the book. I don't thing I'm going to finish it. I thing you would like the book if you were from here because it tells about the history of the city and names places everybody here has been. A part from this, i find the book horrible. It hapens to many disasters and horrible things. It's just interesting to know about the history.

message 2: by Michele (new) - added it

Michele I'm starting chapter 25 (pg 242) and can't find any compelling reason to continue trudging through this book.

Rotapannotta I totally agree! It`s so boring I cannot go on. I visited Barcelona and I loved it, but this book is unbearable and utterly boring.

message 4: by Mo (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mo Bremner You should finish it. The story was fascinating.

Lsieval Continue reading! I love the book.

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