Cathedral By The Sea, and Other Books I’ve Begun for Spanish Lit Month Before It Ends

I have had a difficult time reading this month, and sadly, finishing books for Spanish Lit Month. I began Cathedral of The Sea which, as you can see from the blurb about the author at the end of this post, sounded fabulous. Fourteenth century? Several literary prizes? It held every promise.

However, I abandoned this hefty novel halfway through. After slogging through well over 300 pages, many of which were interesting, the overall effect was too much of a soap opera. There were dramatics from the characters which seemed contrived, and I would have much rather known more about the cathedral itself than their imagined lives.

So, with The Cave being Portuguese rather than Spanish, and Cathedral of The Sea being boring, I tried another book: A Million Drops by Victor Del Arbol. It too, lies abandoned halfway through, although it is an international best seller which was named a Best Book of The Year by The Washington Post, Seattle Times and Crime Reads. Perhaps I will pick it up after I finish All This I Will Give to You, written by Dolores Redondo which won the Pleneta Prize in 2016. Such are my efforts for Spanish Lit Month, the later also qualifying for Women In Translation Month.

A lawyer and a writer, Falcones’s first book, La catedral del mar (Cathedral of the Sea), was published in 2006, when he was nearly 50. This historic novel is set in 14th-century Barcelona, when the Catalan empire was at its greatest. Cathedral of the Sea won Falcones several international awards, including the Spanish Qué Leer award, the Italian Giovanni Boccaccio award, and the French Fulbert de Chartres award. His second novel, La mano de Fátima (The Hand of Fatima), which is set during the Moorish era, received the American-Italian Roma Prize for best foreign literature. Since 2013, he has released three books. (From

11 thoughts on “Cathedral By The Sea, and Other Books I’ve Begun for Spanish Lit Month Before It Ends”

  1. All I can offer is, “Mama said there’d be days like this!” 🙂 I’ve had empty months just like you’re describing. Perhaps a short classic that you’ve never read before, or maybe some short stories would be fulfilling and lessen the disappointment and let down. Better yet, go outside and forget reading for a few days!!! Talk to you later.

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    1. I’m not sure why, but I seem to have some difficulty with Spanish literature in particular. I have loved Javier Marias, and Isabel Allende, but many of the Spanish authors do not touch my soul (as do the Russian, say, or the Japanese). Plus, after reading the intensely entertaining novels of Don WInslow, I find anything else that even attempts a fast pace thriller most disappointing. But, thank you for your words of encouragement! Mama is always right! 😉

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  2. For me, the Russian writers do seem to touch a corner of my soul more than any of the Spanish writers I’ve ever read. . . But full disclosure bids me to admit I’ve a bias for Russian literature since my youth. 🙂

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    1. Yes, the Saramago was excellent! I will long remember The Cave, though I can’t say I perfectly understood what was in it. Or rather, what the meaning was of its contents. But the mood, the family bond between the father, his daughter and her husband was extraordinary. What Saramago did you love?

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        1. “All the Names” is my favourite Saramago too — although “The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis” is a close second! I have loved most of his novels, though, so I’m biased towards him in general.

          And Bellezza, I echo Tampa Spartan in saying I wouldn’t worry too much about your disappointing month with Spanish lit . . . I find that sometimes I’m just in the wrong mood for a certain kind of literature. Maybe your month of properly enjoying Spanish lit to the full is yet to come 🙂

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          1. Ah, with that ringing endorsement from you both, I will now look for All The Names. I like Saramago so very much. Thanks for your suggestion, and encouragement to carry on!


  3. Don’t beat yourself up too much, I had exactly the same kind of month in June, could barely finish a page. Hope it turns around for you soon and you manage to dive into a book that really ‘clicks’ for you!


  4. I know exactly what you mean about those barren reading times. They’re really frightening–I almost regard them as an indicia of my mental health–if I’m not reading, something is very, very wrong. Like many, I found late spring, when the full extent of the pandemic was really hitting home, a very difficult time to concentrate. My own way out was reading novellas (novella?) — longer than short stories, less demanding time wise than novels.
    Such a shame about Cathedral of the Sea, as it sounded really fascinating. I’ve really drawn to novels set historical periods that are a little off my beaten path, such as medieval Catalonia. I’m quite picky about my historical fiction, which I think is very difficult to do well. All too often, it’s simply a modern story dressed up in fancy costume!


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