Reviewed by Neriza Billi
Ever since I read Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones, I have been continuously searching for similar books. Intertwined lives from different social classes in a historical city, their existence centering on a famous Spanish architecture; The Dream of the City seems to tick all the boxes.
Laura and Dimas are the primary characters in the book. Laura comes from a wealthy family in Barcelona while Dimas is from the working class. After fulfilling an apprenticeship for a master jeweler in Rome, Laura comes back to Barcelona, full of ideas and enthusiasm for how she will be able to help their family business. However, she finds out that it is now her brother who is running the business, and all her opinions are ignored. To continually explore her creative side, she volunteers to work in the construction of Sagrada Familia. Dimas, on the other hand, fought his way to improve his status in the society and managed to land a job as the right-hand man of Laura’s brother. With unrest rising in the city, both Laura and Dimas try to keep their love a secret, while protecting their own families. But they are not the only ones who were keeping secrets, and the realization of all these can either keep them together or tear them apart.
Writing a synopsis for this book was quite tricky because I realized that if I were to stick to the important aspects of it, Sagrada Familia would not be mentioned at all. That was the biggest disappointment for me. I expected everything to revolve around its construction but I felt that if it were to be taken away from the story, it would have minimal impact on the plot, if at all.
The bottom line is, the book is about two people who hated each other at first and then fell in love. However, you will not have that impression until you get through about half of the book. The opening chapters were very engaging and the reader will really get a sense of what Barcelona was like during that time. When the author started paving the way for the lovers to be together, that’s when the story started going downhill for me. I felt that the foundation for a great plot was there and it was heading in the right direction, but then it turned the wrong corner and did not manage to find its way back.
Perhaps I expected too much from this book and since it did not really tick all the boxes for me, I will have to continue searching for that next one.
Neriza Billi works a regular 9-to-5 job in Stockholm where she resides with her husband. In addition to reading, she enjoys travelling and curling up with a glass of good wine.
Review copy was provided by Grupo Planeta. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.