On professional commitment, or, Ken Follett, Ildefonso Falcones, and an example of true dedication to the cause

There is a fine line between professional commitment and obsession and I think I might be about 150 pages into crossing it. As part of Project Bestseller, I’m trying to read as many of the bestselling Spanish novels of the last decade as I can.  The two currently at the top of my reading list are closely related; Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth turned out surprisingly (to me, at least) to be a consistent bestseller in Spain over the last decade, while Ildefonso Falcones’s La catedral del mar (warning, link has [very nice] sound!)  has been up there since it was first published in 2006.* The cover blurb on Catedral, from the literary magazine Que Leer, says that ‘Barcelona ya tiene so Los pilares de la Tierra’ (Now Barcelona has its own Pillars of the Earth) – so I decided to start with Pillars and move onto Catedral. Pillars has 1076 pages (I am on p.150). Catedral has 662. Am beginning to feel as if I will be reading about cathedrals for almost as long as it would take to build one. That said, I am loving the Follett, and wondering whether I can get through it by November, when the upcoming TV miniseries, starring Ian McShane, Donald Sutherland and Sarah Parish, among others, will be out on DVD. Hmm. Only another 950ish pages to go…

*The excellent English translation by Nick Caistor, The Cathedral of the Seafollowed fairly swiftly, in 2008.


  1. Stuart Davis · · Reply

    oh my God – Ken Follett! I was just in Madrid on Friday and Saturday and you couldn’t walk into a shop without falling over piles of the latest Follett prominently displayed! Haven’t read him though, so can’t comment on the quality, but there must be something in it…

  2. Ooh, if I’d known I’d have asked you for a picture!
    Am loving Pillars of the Earth, and almost at the end now (having achieved very little else this weekend …) – it does go to Spain briefly (Santiago / Toledo), but I can’t think that’s the reason for its popularity..

  3. […] Stuart was right – Ken Follett is huge in Spain, or, more specifically, Pillars of the Earth and the long-awaited sequel World Without End are monster!!! Since it was Barcelona airport I was passing through this morning on my travels, I was intrigued to see Los pilares de la tierra and Mundo sin fin in the airport bookshop alongside Els pilars de la terra and Un món sense fi, and especially to see how the covers compared between the different language versions.*  […]

  4. […] del mar, a first novel by the Catalan lawyer Ildefonso Falcones, was published back in 2006 and made its first appearance on this blog’s TBR list back in October 2010 (I know, I know…). I read the Spanish edition, but the novel is also […]

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