The lyrical style of Barceló’s prose coupled with Frye’s sympathetic translation draws the reader in from the start, as we first meet the lonely goldsmith of the novel’s title in his snowy New York apartment just before the turn of the century.
Reflecting on the love which stole both his heart and his life, we are taken with the goldsmith on a journey through time as he describes a period which mysteriously manages to span both weeks and decades.
As the goldsmith recounts this fantastical time, during which he attempts to revisit the town of his youth and ends up getting answers to questions he didn’t know he had asked, Barceló leaves it up to the reader to decide how accurate his memories truly are (though I defy even the most cynical reader not to hope our goldsmith gets his final miracle).
Although the protagonist is male, he could easily be anyone – man or woman – who as ever loved and lost. Through the combination of the male storyteller and female author, this book manages to successfully create a beautiful and romantic tearjerker without any saccharine fussiness.
The Goldsmith’s Secret serves as a reminder that not only is our time on this earth only temporary, so too may be the pleasures we experience throughout life. It will leave you feeling much like the goldsmith himself – haunted and mournful, but grateful for the experience (and perhaps also a little wet around the eye area).
Elia Barceló originally found fame in the European literary world as a prominent science-fiction writer, forming one third of the so-called ‘trinity’ of female sci-fi writers in Latin America alongside the Argentinian Angelica Gorodischer and Cuban Daína Chaviano.
However, both The Goldsmith’s Secret and her previous novel Heart of Tango have demonstrated Barceló’s abilities as a cross-genre author, both being truly poetic works of romantic fiction.
Published today by Maclehose Press, you can buy it in hardback for £6.60.
Recommended for: Anyone who needs a quick reminder of how precious and fleeting love can be (but does not like their romance too soppy).
Other recommended reading: For another relationship which is constantly thwarted by a misbehaving fourth dimension, try The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, or for one struck by a case of ‘right place, wrong time’, try Jane Austen‘s Persuasion.