I am challenged to write a review as good as the writing of Arturo Perez-Reverte. Even in the translation from Spanish by Margaret Full Costa, Perez-Reverte’s weaves a story with events obvious and then has you thinking of other subtle underlining events.
Set in the later 1860’s during a time of revolution in Spain “The Fencing Master” character Jaime Astarloa is a man whose time is passing. A master of an art that is now deemed “old fashion”. Don Jaime holds onto the old ways and ekes out a living teaching a few who now look at his deadly profession as a “sport”.
A man of honor trying to hold on to the older ways Astarloa is caught up in the fast changing times, a mysterious and beautiful woman, and political upheaval.
I have found with Perez-Reverte’s books a need to keep “Google” close. First, to add a deeper meaning to the definitions of the fencing terms, described at the beginning of each chapter. Second to help with geography of Spain. (Lets make this clear, the reason for this is not the fault of the story or teller.) The book drew me in and I “needed” to know more. Thirdly I have trouble with the Spanish names and the pronounciation. That adds a hicup to the flow of the story for me. You may be better.
I can see that my skills as a storyteller are not close to the same level as Arturo Perez-Reverte. However, I feel if a book makes you want to improve in some fashion it has done it’s job. Not only to entertain but to teach while entertaining.
I finished this book in the early morning and found myself thinking of the underlining stories. Especially how the main character, Jaime Astarloa, realized that his time was passing. Not only his age and life but also the era and way that he had lived. Change is hard for everyone. I again found myself relating to the character in his dealing with a much younger and beautiful woman. How we older men can be turned by a pretty face and the hint of flirting to loose all common sense. There is a point in the story when Don Jaime comes to the realization that he’s been played a fool, and his honor has been used against him. There is no fool like an old fool. I’m lucky, I have a wife that sees me for the fool that I am and still loves me. I rolled over and put my arm over her and fell back to sleep.
This is the second book by Arturo Perez-Reverte that I have read. I recommend this book and also “The Nautical Chart”. I have enjoyed both and have another by the author in the bookcase waiting in the Que. My delema now is, do I read the next Perez-Reverte book right away, while I am into the translation mode or, wait and let the anticipation build.
We will see.
Until next time. Read, learn, and enjoy.