Summary and book reviews of Barcelona Dreaming by Rupert Thomson

Barcelona Dreaming

by Rupert Thomson

Barcelona Dreaming by Rupert Thomson X
Barcelona Dreaming by Rupert Thomson
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Jun 2021, 224 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rod McLary
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About this Book

Book Summary

Set on the eve of the financial crash of 2008, this evocative novel is made up of three stories linked by time and place, and also by the moving, unexpected interactions of a rich cast of characters.

Barcelona Dreaming is narrated, in turn, by an English woman who runs a gift shop, an alcoholic jazz pianist, and a translator tormented by unrequited love, all of whose lives will be changed forever. Underpinning the novel, and casting a long shadow, is a crime committed against a young Moroccan immigrant.

Exploring themes of addiction, racism, celebrity, immigration, and self-delusion, and fueled by a longing for the unattainable and a nostalgia for what is about to be lost, Barcelona Dreaming is a love letter to one of the world's most beautiful cities and a powerful and poignant fable for our uncertain times.

THE GIANT OF SARRIÀ

When I was twenty-one, I fell in love with Pol. I moved to Barcelona to be close to him, and we married soon after. Within a year of our wedding I was pregnant, but things had already started to go wrong between us, and by the time our daughter was six months old we had split up and were living apart. Though I was from the North of England, I stayed on in Barcelona. I couldn't bear to leave. The quality of the light first thing in the morning, so bright and clear that the buildings seemed to have black edges. The green parrots that flashed from one palm tree to another. Long walks in the Collserola in April, to gather wild asparagus, or in September, to hunt for mushrooms. The beach every weekend in the summer, the mountains in the winter—and restaurants and bars that stayed open all night. It was a city whose pleasures were simple and constant—and it was a good place to raise a child.

For the first few years, I taught at an international school in ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

While the broad themes of racism, sexual and family violence, undocumented migration and unrequited love swirl beneath the novellas, of greater concern are the thoughts and emotions of the three narrators. As in all Rupert Thomson's critically acclaimed books, there is a fluidity in his writing that takes the reader places they never expected to go. Dreams and illusions are explored and broken, and at the end, the reader feels replete. A marvelous book that evokes both the beauty and the shadows of Barcelona...continued

Full Review Members Only (713 words).

(Reviewed by Rod McLary).

Media Reviews

Foreword Reviews
Linked by incisive narrators and chance encounters, Rupert Thomson's alluring novel Barcelona Dreaming braids three stories into a lush exploration of love and unmet longings.

New York Times
The stories are also connected by their style, which is airily suggestive, the long, ethereal sentences recalling the work of another author whose presence was powerfully felt in Barcelona in the early years of the millennium: Roberto Bolaño...It feels unlikely that this novel will prove Thomson's breakout success — it is perhaps too elusive, too darkling for that — but Barcelona Dreaming is a wonderful book, a phantasmal hymn to a city and a lost way of life.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Three dynamic characters wrestle with the instabilities of love and life in Thomson's shimmering triptych...Thomson gracefully ties together themes of longing, love, and the inequities caused by age and race. The result is memorable and moving.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Thomson inhabits the voices of his characters perfectly; each section is narrated in the first person, and each perspective feels unique. It's a quiet and unassuming novel even in its most dramatic moments—fans of Thomson and of literary fiction are likely to find this trip to Barcelona well worth taking. A reserved but powerful effort from the accomplished British novelist.

Author Blurb Philip Pullman, author of the bestselling His Dark Materials trilogy
I don't know how Rupert Thomson does it. Each novel he writes is a new vision of a new world; he's the least predictable, the most surprising of writers. Barcelona Dreaming is set in that city, and it seems as if Thomson knows every corner of it, and every kind of human being who might live there. My astonishment is only surpassed by my admiration.

Author Blurb Colm Tóibín, New York Times bestselling author of Brooklyn and The Master
The three stories in Barcelona Dreaming are connected by ingeniously created threads, but also by a tone that is ironic, observant, alert to the complexity of the characters' motives and desires. The book is set in the modern city of Barcelona, its atmosphere invoked with intimate knowledge and a matchless sense of place.

Author Blurb Andrea Wulf, author of The Invention of Nature
Elegant and electrifying. Thomson's prose is sparse, yet so highly charged that I couldn't stop reading. I love all his novels—but this one is my new favorite.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Ronaldinho: The Savior of FC Barcelona

Soccer player Ronaldinho wearing soccer uniform and smilingReaders of Barcelona Dreaming will notice that soccer player Ronaldinho is mentioned frequently throughout the novel. Although not one of the chief protagonists, his presence in Barcelona — and by extension in the lives of the book's characters — is a constant.

Who is Ronaldinho and why does he feature so significantly in this novel?

Ronaldinho was born Ronaldo de Assis Moreira on March 21, 1980. In a 2019 article, the international football magazine FourFourTwo placed him fifth on its list of "101 greatest football players of the last 25 years" in the sport called football or soccer, depending on where you live. Ronaldinho was born in Brazil where he first started playing football at age eight. Even then, he was ...

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