The Shadow of the Wind – Back to 1940’s Barcelona – part two

The Shadow of the Wind – a work of art – a classic film noir that you would normally expect to see on the big screen – masterfully crafted amongst the pages of this book.

It certainly has all the makings of an epic film of the old Hollywood variety – dark smokey alleyways, crumbling buildings, young love and dark dark secrets.

MAP

Calle Santa Ana The journey starts at the bookshop on Calle Santa Ana Plaza real,  Daniel meets Clara here. He also comes across Fermin Romero de Torres. Calle Arco del Teatro Is this where the Cemetery of Books is hidden? Calle Ferran  The area in the Gothic Quarter where Daniel first saw that pen in the shop window. Iglesia Santa del Mar  In the book it’s the Santa Lucia Hospice where Daniel and Fermin hear the tale of Penelope and Julian from Penelope’s old nurse Jacinta Coronada. El Quatre Gats  where Daniel and Fermin spend a lot of their time
Calle Santa Ana
The journey starts at the bookshop on Calle Santa Ana
Plaza real,
Daniel meets Clara here. He also comes across Fermin Romero de Torres.
Calle Arco del Teatro
Is this where the Cemetery of Books is hidden?
Calle Ferran
The area in the Gothic Quarter where Daniel first saw that pen in the shop window.
Iglesia Santa del Mar
In the book it’s the Santa Lucia Hospice where Daniel and Fermin hear the tale of Penelope and Julian from Penelope’s old nurse Jacinta Coronada.
El Quatre Gats
where Daniel and Fermin spend a lot of their time

After the first part of my literary journey back in time to 1940’s Barcelona, in the trail of The Shadow of the Wind, I took a moment to sit in a small cafe, and with my coffee in one hand and my book in the other, I was back in that time, the dark wooden tables splashed with wine and the flickering candles illuminating every scene.

The eerie beauty of the Gothic Quarter
The eerie beauty of the Gothic Quarter

After a spot of lunch, I continued my journey across Barcelona via Calle Ferran and ended up walking along  Calle Jaume I and Calle de la Princesa street in the same way that Daniel would have done. It is in this area that Daniel first saw that pen in the shop window. The Montblanc Meisterstuck that provides some touching moments between Daniel and his father.

Calle de la Princesa
Calle de la Princesa 

The streets near the Church Iglesia Santa del Mar are dark , damp and mysterious but in the Shadow of the Wind, it’s the Santa Lucia Hospice where Daniel and Fermin hear the tale of Penelope and Julian from Penelope’s old nurse Jacinta Coronada.

Where Daniel goes in search of the truth on his literary trail
Where Daniel goes in search of the truth on his literary trail

The eerie but beautiful maze of streets, alleys and almost secret passageways are as spooky as they are fascinating. The imposing trees and balconies above your head try and look over your shoulder and touch your head to get your attention. I cowered my head as it started to rain and chased Daniel as he himself scurried along in his search for the truth.

The evening sky was heavy and imposing above and the shadows all around me chased me as I hurried my steps in order to make my way back around the cathedral and back out into open space where I could breathe once again

The beautiful but imposing Cathedral
The beautiful but imposing Cathedral

I took a moment then to visit Nuria’s flat and the square  – ‘a small breathing space  in the maze of streets” and stand beside the fountain as I imagined Daniel had done  so many times before me. Daniel is searching for the truth and he enlists Nuria’s help – but the more Daniel learns about Carax, the more he realizes the similarities and parallels between his own life and that of the author. Then to the cathedral where the hatter and the character of Sophie Carax first met:

A meeting of destiny
A meeting of destiny
Nuria's flat
Nuria’s flat
the breath of fresh air
the breath of fresh air

Finally coming to the end of my journey for now, I sat and enjoyed the last chapter at the cafe El Quatre Gats where he spent a lot of his time. I saw Daniel go past me as I watched the street outside the window and I saw Lain Coubert at every turn. Every flicker of light,every motion out of the corner of my eye caught my attention and was heightened by The shadow of the wind. The shadow of the wind is Barcelona and although it was a dark and eerie adventure at times, it was a literary journey that I will never forget.

The Shadow of the Wind in Barcelona – a literary journey – part one

The Shadow of the Wind
The Shadow of the Wind

Barcelona with its gothic streets, and the many hidden corners and shadowy arch ways are characters and moods of The Shadow of the Wind. An old forgotten book, relegated to the dusty shelves of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books…….

The book, written by Spanish author Carlos Ruiz Zafon is one of my all time favourite Spanish novels. …..

MAP

Calle Santa Ana The journey starts at the bookshop on Calle Santa Ana Plaza real,  Daniel meets Clara here. He also comes across Fermin Romero de Torres. Calle Arco del Teatro Is this where the Cemetery of Books is hidden? Calle Ferran  The area in the Gothic Quarter where Daniel first saw that pen in the shop window. Iglesia Santa del Mar  In the book it’s the Santa Lucia Hospice where Daniel and Fermin hear the tale of Penelope and Julian from Penelope’s old nurse Jacinta Coronada. El Quatre Gats  where Daniel and Fermin spend a lot of their time
Calle Santa Ana
The journey starts at the bookshop on Calle Santa Ana
Plaza real,
Daniel meets Clara here. He also comes across Fermin Romero de Torres.
Calle Arco del Teatro
Is this where the Cemetery of Books is hidden?
Calle Ferran
The area in the Gothic Quarter where Daniel first saw that pen in the shop window.
Iglesia Santa del Mar
In the book it’s the Santa Lucia Hospice where Daniel and Fermin hear the tale of Penelope and Julian from Penelope’s old nurse Jacinta Coronada.
El Quatre Gats
where Daniel and Fermin spend a lot of their time

Daniel, who lives with his father above a book shop in Barcelona, first learns of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books as a ten year old. He is told by his father that he can choose one book from the dusty shelves. He chooses ‘ The Shadow of the Wind’ by Julian Carax. But he is not the only one to find the book interesting – as he grows up, he soon discovers that a lot of people want to know about this book and are in a hurry to do so. Daniel realises he has to find out about the life and death of Julian Carax and to try and save those he left behind…

The journey starts at the bookshop on Calle Santa Ana:

Calle Santa Ana
Calle Santa Ana

A beautifully mysterious and shadowy street  in the gothic quarter that leads on to La Rambla and the main tourist areas. However, this fact has not spoilt the eerie atmosphere you feel walking down Calle Santa Ana as I passed the people I imagined Daniel would have done as he wandered to and from the bookstore. I could clearly hear the voices from the Shadow of the Wind, whispering and singing as I walked down and looked around for the first stop on my literary journey…I was about to wander in Daniel’s footsteps but am sure I felt a whisper beside me and a presence as I did so. I hoped it was Daniel walking with me… showing me around his world..

Did Daniel live right here?
Did Daniel live right here?

Daniel lived with his father up above and he would sit here dreaming of his books and of Clara. And wondering about the mysterious author Carax whose book he found.

Speaking of Clara – wandering off the Plaza real, I visited the apartment where Daniel met her. Where he saw her there and his world was shattered, and where he first comes across Fermin Romero de Torres. The arches and the palm trees providing a nice dance of shadows on each of the windows. The square has a unique atmosphere – you feel it has so many secrets and stories to tell amongst its arches and hidden corners. I was back that night – the darkness added more depth and mystery and I saw Daniel’s feelings for Clara and his fright at his meeting with Fermin even more profound.

Clara's appartment and where Daniel meets Fermin amongst the shadowy arches
Clara’s appartment and where Daniel meets Fermin amongst the shadowy arches

Last stop on the first part of the tour was the cemetery of books itself. The arch leading to Calle Arco del Teatro was unwelcoming and dark but I wandered down it and found a myriad of surprising characters hanging around the streets – I imagined not unlike those that Daniel may have wanted to avoid. I sensed the heavy doors hiding secret tomes and histories behind them. I smelt the old damp streets and the dust of the walls soon covered my shoes. It was as if I had literally walked into the novel for there were no tourists here. Just some figure– not unlike Lain Coubert himself.

Calle Arco Del Teatro - 'more than a scar than a street'
Calle Arco Del Teatro – ‘more than a scar than a street’

There were no passers-by in this alley – I could only hear the voices of those in nearby streets. It was as if Barcelona, in this alley way at least, was muffled and forgotten. It was hard to identify the place where the cemetery of books was hidden as all doorways or memories of them were akin to faceless and unmarked gravestones. An ideal place for a cemetery of books.

Was this once the Cemetery of Books? I rather hope it still is.....
Was this once the Cemetery of Books? I rather hope it still is…..

I didn’t stay long – I felt someone was watching me and so I hurried along, my face hidden in my scarf not only to keep the dust off my face but to keep this scar of Barcelona from my mind. But the Cemetery of Books had left its mark and my literary journey was far from over….

Barcelona Book Fair -and a literary mishap

I thought I would share some more memories of the Barcelona book fair – Saint Jordi 2013. Seems like a life time ago that the sun was shining on the rose stalls and the sweet smell of flowers and books was perfuming the air.

photo-41

There were many lovely moments spent just wandering through the treelined streets of Barcelona searching for the next stop on my literary search. There were so many stalls and stands and so many books that I literally was in book heaven.  So many authors too and those I didn’t know were just as important as though I did. I got myself so excited and tried to meet as many as possible.  In fact,  the more I wandered the more I realised how many were still to see, I just felt the need to see more and more and  to try and meet everyone which was impossible really.

Kate Morton treasures
Kate Morton treasures

Every stand seemed to have a list of who was there and who was going to be there but this was quite difficult to keep track of. But having so much to look at and not knowing where all the places were properly on the map, to my shame and utter horror, I missed Kate Morton by around five minutes!  I can‘t even say that I was queuing to see someone else  – it’ s just that it was so overwhelming the whole event – plus the fact I was marching around Barcelona on one of two literary trails (limited chances whilst there and I was there on someone else’s time).

Well what can I say. I’m gutted. I’ve written about her on this blog and read all her books several times so it would have been the ultimate honour to have a signed book. Still it was fantastic to be able to buy her books in Spanish. I particularly like this one in the photo below  as it is small and hard back and its so the jacket I imagined the English version having. This is what the film would look like too in my eyes.

Kate I came so close and I’ve bought all your books again  -so now I can enter the Kate Morton world  in Spanish – to read again and to delve into that world of yours you build so imaginatively. And it’s true what they say – a good story is a good story in any language.

Funny story in all of this – I asked a rather old Catalan man  with a very thick Catalan accent ( I speak no Catalan and certainly find the accent hard to understand ) who seemed to know a lot about books and the book fair in general – he heard me talking about Kate Morton and said Si si….Morton….after a bit of a conversation – he was convinced ‘Morton’  was still there. Confused I convinced him this was not true. But he insisted – so I followed him to the nearby tent and who did I spot?

The wrong Morton! lol
The wrong Morton! lol

Only Andrew Morton – the one who wrote the books about the late Lady Diana, Princess of Wales. He’s written one about the royal women of Spain hahaha I have laughed a lot at this and, well despite my misfortune, I have a funny story to tell. Hope you enjoyed it too.  Two English speaking authors called Morton at the same event? You couldn’t make it up could you!?

Barcelona Book Fair – Saint Jordi 2013

Book day in Barcelona!
Book day in Barcelona!

It’s been quite a week on the book trail – I was invited to Barcelona for the fabulous Saint Jordi celebrations which is the famous festival of Saint George -the patron saint of Catalonia. On this day, men buy roses for women and they, in return, by books for the man. But people buy both for each other which is better I think.

Well i would rather have a book any day but a book and a rose! Well now. And that’s what the fantastic department store was doing – for every two books you bought, they gave you a free rose.. so I got books and a rose. Perfect.

Back to the festival though and the Saint Jordi festival was bigger and better than ever before. There were stalls all over the city filled to the brim with books. Hundreds of authors who were spending time signing their books and book related festivities in book shops and around the streets. Shops selling book shaped cakes…..it was book fabulousness all in one place…….book heaven infact.

St George and his dragon are painted on everything from children’s faces to cards and bookmarks, roses are sold on practically  every street corner and the whole city comes out and fill the streets.  Every publisher has their own marquee with a range of books in Catalan and Spanish and there are children’s books written about St George and the dragon which were very cute.

The dragon - how cute!
The dragon – how cute!

There was a most gorgeous scent of roses in the air everywhere you go and with the warm Barcelona sun on my back, it was a lovely day with the smell of books and roses in the air…….

roses are 'read', books should be too, Saint Jordi knows how to combine the two!
roses are ‘read’, books should be too, Saint Jordi knows how to combine the two!

The book fair….waiting to see some fabulous authors….

Dolores Redondo

Federico Moccia

Elsa Punset

Daniel Bruhl

Waiting in line to see my first author in a line of many...
Waiting in line to see my first author in a line of many…

There were many other fantabulous authors there of the English speaking world such as my absolute favourite of all time KATE MORTON!!!!!!! who readers of this blog will know  – is an author I have written about a lot since I have travelled to many different places such as Sissinghurst Castle in England thanks to her books. I also discovered Sarah Lark who writes historical fiction in Germany and Spain. I discovered so much this week and met so many amazing people, regained the fluency of my Spanish and chatted about books with people who love and write books. Book heaven.

There is so much to write about, I will come back to this in another post or two, as whilst in Barcelona I took the opportunity to go on another literary journey………

The Angel’s Game, Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona's dark and mysterious side
Barcelona’s dark and mysterious side

Carlos Ruiz Zafón is one of Spains’ most masterful storyteller and El juego del ángel ( The Angels’s game)  is one of my favourites of his books.

With this and others, I have discovered a side of Barcelona I would never have had I not read it. It is a stunning city at the best of times, but the magic that this book adds to Barcelona and its old town had me exploring with a heightened sense of keenness. I began to  imagine  things that my mind, over active at the best of times, had trouble to make sense of. In a word, I was intrigued – to read more and to visit Barcelona again and again.

This novel captures the gothic wonder that is Barcelona in all its entirety. It is dark, mysterious, winding and weaving its subtle plots like the streets of Barcelona itself. In fact the style of writing mimics the actual city in a way I’ve never seen before.

What is equally good is that the English translation also does a very good job of recreating the city and its mysteries.

The plot:

In an abandoned mansion in Barcelona, David Martín makes his living writing sensationalist novels under a pseudonym.

His childhood was a troubled one which has led him to take refuge in the world of books.

Crouched over his desk, he spends entire nights creating fantastical and mysterious tales about Barcelona’s underworld. However, it soon becomes apparent that the stories from his imagination, Which he says the streets whisper to him, are maybe not just contained within his imagination. His house itself contains a wealth of dark mysteries itself.

One day he receives a letter from a reclusive editor  who makes him the offer of a lifetime. If he writes  a book unlike anything that has ever existed before, he will receive a fortune, and perhaps more.

If you have never been to Barcelona, you will think you are there. You will still be drawn to going there for real, just to see what you can discover for yourself……