Samuel is a thirty-something professor of German living in Barcelona, ringing in the New Year alone with no sense of joy or optimism for the year ahead. But his life suddenly becomes much less lonely with the arrival of a stray cat who immediately demands his attention and affection. The cat leads Samuel to his upstairs neighbor Titus, who is compiling a collection of inspirational stories. Samuel eventually agrees to help the elderly and ailing Titus with his book, which opens up Samuel to a host of new people and experiences. He befriends Valdemar, a possibly homeless conspiracy theorist who philosophizes with him late into the night. He mildly flirts with the veterinarian who comes to give the cat its shots. And by sheer happenstance, he runs into Gabriela, the girl he fell madly in love with as a child but whom he hasn’t seen in decades. But will Samuel be able to transcend his solitary habits and actually act on his feelings?
I should say up front that I didn’t particularly enjoy this book, but I don’t think it’s necessarily the book’s fault. Based on the title and cover, I was expecting a romantic comedy. The cover art looks similar to that on Rainbow Rowell’s books, so I think that made me subconsciously expect a Rowell-esque story. But this book is very different; in fact, the romance is quite weak, which disappointed and sometimes even aggravated me. It’s not that I always need a strong romantic plot in my books, although I admit it’s usually a plus! But if there’s going to be a romance, I’d like for it to be emotionally satisfying…and for me, this one wasn’t. Gabriela is barely a character at all; she’s merely an idealized romantic fantasy for Samuel to moon over. And in fact, the romance isn’t even the main plot. The book mostly just follows Samuel around Barcelona as he philosophizes (in a not particularly deep manner) about life and love. So I wasn’t a fan of this book, but maybe I would have liked it more if I’d gone into it with different expectations.