Monday, 13 June 2011

FICTION REVIEW: The Goldsmith's Secret - Elia Barcelo

Release Date: 14/04/11


One snowy night in New York City, a successful but solitary goldsmith reflects on his life, and his unreliable memories intertwine and collide. Returning to the village where he grew up, he hopes with some trepidation that he will encounter Celia, 'the Black Widow', a beautiful and mysterious friend of his mother with whom he had a short and passionate affair when he was a teenager, before she rejected him. But instead he meets a young woman who opens doors onto a strange world, and takes him back in time. The Goldsmith's Secret is a remarkable story with a magical twist, of a love trapped between two parallel times, set Spain in the fifties, seventies, and in the last year of the twentieth century.

In beautifully economical language, and with a structure as intricate and refined as a bevelled jewel, The Goldsmith's Secret is filled with intense nostalgia, memories and desires. Elia Barceló has come to be known across Europe as a truly original voice, and her books as poetic works of great subtlety.


To be honest when this landed I was surprised that it was quite a small title but following the old adage of the best things come in small packages I decided to give it a go. Whilst this book is small, it does have a wonderful sense of whimsy as the principle protagonist looks back on his life and recants his tale to the reader. Its cleverly done although the confusion between reality and fantasy within the tale does throw the reader a few red herrings and unable at times to separate between the two. Not that it’s a bad thing but when you listen to a tale from an older relative it has similar threads within and at times they do simplify which this title didn’t do.

Add to this only the one fully rounded character (the protagonist), some cleverly written dialogue and a reasonable pace and it was a decent enough read. Whether confusion arose within due to translation problems I’m not so sure but whilst entertaining it’s not a title that will stick with me for that long a time. A great shame as the premise was one of interest due to the fact that it tried to do a few things on story building that so many titles seem to forget these days.

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