742 pages,but they pass quickly. This is a real page turner of an historical epic. We follow the story of Arnau from his birth to a serf, who runs away to Barcelona, to his old age. We travel with Arnau through the medieval life of 14th century Catalonia, and the trials of the peasantry and the citizens of Barcelona: famine, war, plague, death and the much feared Spanish Inquisition. We also witness through Arnau the building of the Cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary. As a motherless boy in Barcelona he seeks a mother in the Virgin Mary, whose statue he believes smiles at him. There are many characters in this tale, good and bad, arrogant nobles, downtrodden peasants, business savvy Jews, social ascending artisans, soldiers, prostitutes and bastaixos (those who carry the stones from the quarry to the church and labour at loading and unloading the ships which are the lifeblood of Barcelona’s trade).
Arnau, the protagonist, is a good and brave man but his journey is beset with various tragedies brought about by his lowly position, the calumnies of his enemies and by elements out of his control like the plague which devastates the city. This book I’d recommend to anyone interested in historical fiction, medieval history or in the history of Barcelona.
My rating 5 out of 5