November 8th, 2009

“Behind the Walls” by Núria Esponellà

Núria Esponellà has been awarded with the Nèstor Luján Award for Historical Novel 2009 with Behind the Walls, set in the XII century in a world of fears and superstitions, where a young man is looking for freedom and love. The novel has just been published in Catalan language by Columna Edicions and has already been acclaimed by its first readers, booksellers and journalists. Translation and film rights are available and represented by the Pontas Agency.

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Second half of the XII century. Whiped by the north wind known as tramontana, the monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes stands imposing on the hills of Cap de Creus, with an exceptional view over the bay of Llançà. Inside its walls lives a community of Benedictine monks and, among others, there is Sebastià, who takes care of the pilgrims hospital, and Blai, an orphan young man who will discover love and the great need to conquer his freedom.

But there are difficult times and the abbot Berenguer, a strict and authoritarian man, will have to protect his properties and the privileges of the monastery in front of the demands of the Count of Empúries and the Viscount of Peralada, their fights for the power control and political interests. Besides, Mestre Peire, one of the most acclaimed sculptors of the XII century, has to sculpt the monumental marble door of Sant Pere de Rodes before the Jubileus...

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The true origin of the monastery is not known, which has given rise to speculation and legend. The first documentation of the existence of the monastery dates 878, it being mentioned as a simple monastery cell consecrated to Saint Peter, but it is not until 945 when an independent Benedictine monastery was founded, prevailed over by an abbot. Bound to the County of Empúries it reached its maximum splendor between the XI and XII centuries until its final decay in XVII century. Its increasing importance is reflected in its status as a point of pilgrimage. In the XVII century it was sacked in several occasions and in 1793 was deserted by the Benedictine community. The monastery was declared a national monument in 1930. Since then, non-stop restoration works have been undertaken. Behind the Walls by Núria Esponellà is the first novel set in the monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes ever written before.