The setting is a grim and spooky 1920’s Barcelona. The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a mystery filled with secrets, betrayal, obsessions and possession. David Martin is commissioned to write a great book for which “people will live and die.” He moves into a decrepit house in the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) and finds his book eerily connected to the old house.
From the Publisher
In this powerful, labyrinthian thriller, David Martín is a pulp fiction writer struggling to stay afloat. Holed up in a haunting abandoned mansion in the heart of Barcelona, he furiously taps out story after story, becoming increasingly desperate and frustrated. Thus, when he is approached by a mysterious publisher offering a book deal that seems almost too good to be real, David leaps at the chance. But as he begins the work, and after a visit to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, he realizes that there is a connection between his book and the shadows that surround his dilapidated home and that the publisher may be hiding a few troubling secrets of his own. Once again, Ruiz Zafón takes us into a dark, gothic Barcelona and creates a breathtaking tale of intrigue, romance, and tragedy. Anchor
Book Club Ideas
The main meal of the day in Barcelona is eaten between 2 and 4 pm. So I would plan my party around the main meal with guests arriving at 2 pm for tapas and cerveza.
Serve a tapa (appetizer) of Manchego Cheese and Almond-stuffed Olives with bottles of Estrella Damm cerveza, reminiscent of the sojourn to a small tavern made by David and Grandes.
Manchego Cheese is made from whole sheep’s milk from the Spanish region of Castillo La Mancha and Estrella Damm is an imported beer from Barcelona.
A beautiful Spanish-style table setting with fresh flowers, citrus fruit, candles and a very large pitcher of Sangria is very easy to arrange.
Start the meal with Gazpacho Sope. Gazpacho is a cold tomato soup loaded with fresh vegetables. It is a very refreshing start to any meal. I like to serve my Gazpacho with a sprig of mint and wedges of Tortilla de Patatas, a potato tortilla.
For the main course, prepare a Shrimp and Sausage Paella. Paella is a traditional Catalan rice dish which often combines tierra y mar (land and sea). This dish is extremely versatile with land/sea and vegetable substitutions limited only by your imagination.
The Spanish enjoy their bread rubbed with fresh tomato, olive oil, garlic and salt. Add a touch of Chevre and mint and I guarantee there won’t be a single bite of Tomato Garlic Bread with Chevre and Mint left!
Pass the sangria around the table, savor the meal and the camaraderie while pondering David’s consuming obsession with Cristina and a wish for more on my favorite character, the very lovely Isabella.
While happily munching on Panellets, a traditional Spanish sweet, and drinking Cafe de Leche (coffee with milk), the dark aspects of this book can be discussed. Who committed the murders? What is the ultimate price David pays for his pact with Andreas Corelli? Was David victim, fiend, or driven by delusions?
Book Club Resources
- “Zafón’s visionary storytelling prowess is a genre unto itself.” – USA Today
- “A wickedly clever tale.” – Miami Herald
- “Absorbing…. Offers not only plenty of plot intricacies and mystery but also a lyrical style of writing…. A literary centaur in which a meditation on the craft of writing is combined with a thriller.” – Los Angeles Times
- “Zafón, a master of mood and emotional manipulation, guides us through Barcelona’s backstreets. . . . Readers who enjoy losing themselves completely in a grand scary story that is at once epic and intimate will find themselves spellbound.” – San Antonio Express-News
- The old bookseller Sempere influenced David’s life greatly. Sempere gave David a copy of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. What parallels can be drawn from David’s life and that of a character from a Dickens novel?
- Discuss the intriguing Cemetery of Forgotten Books. What do you think of this statement: “Every book, every volume you see, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and the soul of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.”
- What did you think of David’s idol Pedro Vidal? Why did Pedro exploit and use Daniel? Why did Daniel allow him to do so?
- Discuss the atmosphere of Barcelona’s Barri Gotic district created by Zafon in The Angel’s Game.
- Were you on team Isabella or team Cristina?
The website of Carlos Ruiz Zafon was quite an experience in itself. Not only did I find the beautiful music composed and performed by the author but much information on his other works. I highly recommend entering Senor Zafon’s world. Ahhh, what I wouldn’t give to wander The Cemetary of Forgotten Books …..
Go to the Carlos Ruiz Zafon Amazon Page for more information on the author and his works. And, be sure to read The Shadow of the Wind in which Isabella’s son is the hero!
Other Works by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Personal Insights, Favorite Quotes, etc…
“The whole of Barcelona stretched out at my feet and I wanted to believe that, when I opened those windows, its streets would whisper stories to me, secrets I could capture on paper and narrate to whomever cared to listen…”
The Barcelona depicted in The Angel’s Gameby Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a city of mystery and the macabre. View this trailer video for The Angel’s Game and get a feel for Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s City of the Damned.