Wilson, Barbara. Gaudi Afternoon. Washington: Seal Press, 2001.
Reason read: February is my birth month and I want to honor women doing cool stuff. In honor of a female globetrotting translator, I’m reading Gaudi Afternoon.
What starts out as a promise to help a friend of a friend find a missing husband because she can speak Spanish, Cassandra Reilly jets off to Barcelona, Spain. She soon finds herself running all over the city, as in running into old lovers left and right. She is supposed to be looking for Ben Stevens, husband to Frankie. Instead, her time is taken up with deflecting old lover, Ana, and Ana’s quest to start a family with Cassandra; or lusting after on again-off again lover and hairdresser, Carmen; or getting orgasmic foot massages from the wacky weird foot therapist, Alice. Occasionally, in between being starved for sexual companionship, and looking for lost people, Cassandra works on translating a South American best seller and discovering the genius of Antonio Gaudi’s architecture. Then there’s looking for Ben…remember the missing husband of Frankie? Only, it isn’t Ben who is missing. This is a never ending kidnapping caper. The gender bending gets confusing at times.
Quotes to quote, “Or I’ll decide I need to catch up with an old lover in Uruguay, and political events will keep me there longer than expected” (p 3).
Pet peeve: small detail. Cassandra goes into a shop that seems to be full of nautical items. Maps are not nautical. Charts are the correct term.
Author fact: Wilson’s last name is Sjoholm. Like her lead heroine, she is a writer, editor, teacher and translator.
Book trivia: Gaudi Afternoon was made into a movie in 2001 starring Judy Davis. Of course I haven’t seen it.
Nancy said: Pearl said Gaudi Afternoon was a contemporary series featuring a female sleuth. I wouldn’t call Cassandra Reilly a “sleuth” but rather a woman who got caught up in sleuthing.
BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “Ms. Mystery” (p 169).
Zafron, Carlos Ruiz. Shadow of the Wind. Translated by Lucia Greives.
Reason read: the pilgrimage to El Rocio occurs in July.
When we first meet Daniel Sempre he is ten years old and his father has just introduced him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Daniel has been granted the choice of one book as a birthday present. By chance, he chooses Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax. So the mystery begins. Daniel is no ordinary boy. When he was very young he coveted a fountain pen reputed to once belong to Jules Verne. His father would accompany him weekly to “visit” this pen in a storefront window. [As an aside, what ten year old would utter, “all the evidence to the contrary”? Had he been reading Sherlock Holmes?] Moving on from the pen, Daniel becomes fascinated with writer Julian Carax and the mystery surrounding him. From there, the mystery deepens to the point of harrowing. Shadows become dangerous. Secrets become lethal. It’s a story within a story best savored slow.
Quotes I just had to quote, “A secret’s worth depends on the people from whom it must be kept” and “To truly hate is an art one learns with time.”
As an aside, when I read the quote, “Childhood devotions make unfaithful and fickle lovers” I was reminded of Charles Causely’s poem, “Rhyme of Innocence and Experience” when he wrote, “Where are all the other girls and boys and why have you brought me children’s toys?”
Author fact: Sadly, Carlos Ruiz Zafron just passed away, reportedly from colon cancer.
Book trivia: Shadow of the Wind was an international bestseller and translated into dozens of languages.
Nancy said: the only thing Pearl said about Shadow of the Wind is that it offered a “vivid picture” of Spain.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Spain.” (p 220). How simple can you get?
Of course I am not really traveling anywhere, but for the first time in a couple of months I have (finally) gotten back to reading. and. And! And, I did drive a car for the first time since 3/19/20. There’s that. In truth, I have been reading all along, just not with the pleasure and leisure I used to have. All of that is slowly coming back, in part due to the realization it’s okay to disappear into the pages from time to time. It is okay to read with no other agenda. I have started to think of the books as different forms of travel. Without further ado, here are the books for June:
- The Second Summer of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares. Places I’ll go: Washington, D.C. & Alabama.
- The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. Places: Pennsylvania & something like heaven.
- Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Places: around Sweden.
- The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron. Places: Barcelona, Spain and thensome.
- Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux. Places: My back yard of Western Massachusetts and Honduras.
- Garden of the Gods by Gerald Durrell. Place: Cofu, Greece.
- Perfection Salad by Laura Shapiro. Places: all around New England
Lee, Laurie. As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning. New York: Atheneum, 1969.
Reason read: the Madrid Festival in Spain (obviously) happens in May.
Confessional: Once again I am reading books out of order! Dammit, dammit, dammit. When I planned to read As I Walked Out I had no idea Cider with Rosie was the first book in a trilogy memoir. No clue! Pearl does not make mention of the connection even though Moment of War (the third and final book of the memoir) is also included in Book Lust To Go. As an aside, Cider is listed in the index of More Book Lust. Again, I did not make the connection.
Laurie Lee left home in England to find, at the very least, fame and fortune as a musician. With mixed emotions he found he could make a dime on street corners but had to supplement his income with other vocations like construction work before moving on to his next adventure. At the heart of his journey was discovery; as he put it, “I felt it was for this I had come: to wake at dawn on a hillside and look out on a world for which I had no words, to start at the beginning, speechless and without a plan, in a place that still had no memories for me” (p 54). Most of his discovery takes place in Spain. As an aside, I loved his description of Madrid as an old lion with broken teeth and bad breath. As I Walked Out… ends with Lee being escorted out of Spain by a British destroyer and yet by summer he was fixated on getting back to Spain to join the war.
Quotes that gave me pause, “I was affronted by freedom” (p 6), “Such a narrow gap between consent and dispute” (p 45) and “Halfway up, in a recess, a small pale child sat carving a potato into the shape of all doll, and as we approached, she turned, gave us a quick look of panic, and bit off its little head” (p 93). What’s that all about? One last quote, “Fear lay panting in the street like a dog” (p 219).
Author fact: Lee was the youngest of twelve in his family. But probably the most fascinating fact about LL is that he met his wife when she was five years old and neither could understand the other’s language (she French, he English).
Book trivia: As I Walked Out… was illustrated by Leonard Rosoman. One of my favorite illustrations is on page 50.
Nancy said: As I Walked Out… is included in a list of books about Spain Nancy said should be tried (p 220).
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter simply called “Spain” (p 218).