Book Review: ‘Voices of the Old Sea’ by Norman Lewis

voices of the old sea - norman lewis 3-7-13Farol, north of Palamos on the Costa Brava, in the late 1940s, was a village of poor fishermen, wild mangy cats and entrenched traditions. Into this isolated community arrives Norman Lewis. Voices of the Old Sea is his account of three fishing seasons spent in the village, from the first sardines in March, the tunny in summer, to the last sardine shoals in October. He witnesses the arrival of tourism and the disappearance of old traditions as the villagers first resist then submit to such overwhelming modernities as a clean beach, new sea wall, hotel rooms with porcelain toilets, and incomprehensible French and German holidaymakers.
The final sign of acceptance of change is when the fishermen’s wives, formerly responsible for raising the village chickens, get dressed up in their finery for interviews as chambermaids at the new hotel. So employed, they earn more pesetas a day than their husbands.
This is a gentle tale, lovingly told. Moments of sadness and tragedy are mixed delicately with comic stories of the eccentric villagers, who come to accept Lewis with less suspicion. It is a glimpse of a lost time but which still retains traces of modern Spain today. Excellent.
5 to remember
el norte – north
el pescador – fisherman
la temporada – season
la tradicion – tradition
afianzado/a – entrenched

1 thought on “Book Review: ‘Voices of the Old Sea’ by Norman Lewis

  1. Pingback: Book Review: ‘Two Middle-Aged Ladies in Andalusia’ | Notes on a Spanish Valley

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