Book Review | In the Beginning Was the Sea by Tomás González

book cover In the Beginning Was the Sea by Tomás GonzálezOriginally written in Spanish in 1983, this is the first English translation of Primero Estaba el MarIn this book, a married couple in their late 20’s or 30’s has abandoned their life in the major city of  Medellín, Colombia to pursue a quieter, more laid back lifestyle, closer to the land, on a remote island several hours away in Antioquia. Protagonist J. has purchased a finca (farm with residence) on the Caribbean Sea and attempts to run it in cooperation with locals. He casts his nets rather wide and becomes involved in farming, cattle, fishing and lumber sales while his attractive and temperamental wife Elena staffs their small goods store. While the pair tries to make the best of things, money and temper issues are abundant and the shadow of death looms.

This book sounded interesting to me because of the premise of young folks abandoning a current lifestyle for a more historically traditional one in a fairly remote island locale. Though González has created a linear and easy to follow story that is based on true events, I found my interest in the characters and their outcomes lacking. Many events described in the story are somewhat mundane, which does give an accurate depiction of the characters’ lives and actions, but leaves something to be desired. The book is a quick read with a serious tone. Check it out from a library near you.


About amy de simone
Amy is an active volunteer, traveler and photographer. She is interested in art, libraries, museums and nonprofits. She holds an M.A. in Library & Information Studies and a B.A. in Italian Language & Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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