Barcelona Beckons
by Simonne Celestine

"Even though our lives were so perfect, I found myself missing my Spanish roots."

Barcelona will beckon readers as it does the main character in the novel. Celestine describes how the main character, Manuel, returns from Sydney to his roots in Barcelona after suffering the loss of his family. The descriptions of the plazas, the markets, the lifestyle, and the genuine people are alluring.

Stylistically, Celestine's writing is superb. The author alternates between Australia circa the 1990s to Barcelona of 2010 but also has the main character in the latter time thinking back on the 90s, too. This seems like it would be confusing, but it never is. Celestine excels most at description. "I opened the door that led on to the balcony . . . I took a deep breath and felt a sense of exhilaration as the aromas coming from the restaurant kitchens permeated the square." And when Celestine describes the accident that takes Manuel's family, she depicts it so deeply and emotionally that readers might find themselves sobbing through the scene. It is sheer talent to have readers yearning to go to Barcelona and crying with Manuel over the losses in his life.

Some words and expressions may be new and charming for readers, too. Manuel talks about their bassinet as a carrycot, for example. The culture differences don't end with words, though. Readers notice during Manuel's life in Barcelona that the characters shop and eat fresh food daily. They don't buy in bulk and store food as Americans do. The plot is fairly simple. Manuel lives, loves, suffers loss, feels anguish, and has somewhat of a gradual rebirth as he learns to live without his wife and children. But the themes are more complex, going beyond love for country, family, and culture. The value of friendship and undying love are explored, as well as how connection is vital for true happiness.

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