This book was horizon-expanding. There is no other word for it. Originally in Spanish and written by Carlos Zafón, it was translated by Lucia Graves into English in 2004 and what a gift it was to the English-reading world. The English version being such a pleasure to read, I can only imagine what reading the Spanish version must leave you feeling. I felt entirely absorbed, enthralled and stimulated intellectually after having read it. Most books I read, usually just have short passages that I feel speak to me, which I proceed to extract, share and/or save for later deliberation. Reading this book made me want to use the book cover-to-cover as one super-long excerpt but that would defeat the purpose. Haha. I had to be really picky but I managed to find some passages that truly resonated with me and saved them here to see if they held any meaning for anyone else besides myself.
The story was beautifully woven; yes that is what it felt like, that the story was a beautiful tapestry and you were being handed the strings it was made of one at a time and you could feel the thick verbose coarseness of the words used to weave an image so vivid, it left you breathless and wanting and needing more. It left you appreciating the essence, the soul of the book as you still managed to appreciate the overall narrative.
“Presents are made for the pleasure of the one who gives them, not for the merits of those who receive them,’ said my father.”
“One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn’t have to understand something to feel it. By the time the mind is able to comprehend what has happened, the wounds of the heart are already too deep. ”
“A secret’s worth depends on the people from whom it must be kept. ”
“The words with which a child’s heart is poisoned, whether through malice or through ignorance, remain branded in his memory, and sooner or later they burn his soul.”
“Don’t be offended, but sometimes it’s easier to talk to a stranger than someone you know. Why is that?”
“Probably because a stranger sees us the way we are, not as they wish us to be.”
“But if there is real love, the sort you don’t go around telling everyone about, the sort that is felt and lived…’
‘You’re a changed man, Fermin.’
‘I am. Bernarda has made me want to be a better man.’
‘So that I can deserve her. You cannot understand such things right now, because you’re young. But in good time you’ll see that sometimes what matters isn’t what one gives but what one gives up.”
“Few things are more deceptive than memories”
“to whom she would give all the love with which God had poisoned her soul.”
“Their lives were ruled by chance. They met in corridors, they looked at one another from opposite ends of the table, they brushed silently against each other, they felt each other’s absence. They exchanged their first words in the library of the house on Avenida del Tibidabo one stormy afternoon when
‘Villa Penelope’ was filled with the dim light of candles –
only a few seconds stolen from the darkness in which Julian thought he saw in the girl’s eyes the certainty that they both felt the same, that the same secret was devouring them.
“God gives us life, but the world’s landlord is the devil.”
I’m sure I have misplaced a whole bunch of other excerpts I grabbed from this book. In the meantime, enjoy these.