Author: Sandra Bruna Thursday 17 February 2022

Through history, medicine has always been the science that everyone wants to see evolve because without it, we would not cure a lot of sickness that have appeared and will continue to appear because this has no end. We come from a pandemic where we have lived the importance of having a good health care, good professionals in the field and good scientists, and the importance of taking care of them all, not only when we feel unprotected. Those who work in the medical world is because it is their vocation, same as people who works in the art world, but this does not mean working at any price. Vocation and passion move mountains, but they need taking care of, to keep this nerve that keeps them alive. Coia Valls confirms that this novel is a tribute to those who have taken care of us throughout history.

I believe this is a really important issue to talk about before introducing this special book, the historic novel written by the author Coia Valls. THE ALCHEMY OF LIFE, published in Spanish by Destino and in Catalan by Columna, puts us in the 15th century when the world was changing but medicine was stagnant in the old formula of the theriac. Nevertheless, there has always been men and women that searched new ways of healing the body and soul, who produced alchemy formulas to achieve the elixir of the eternal life. Often, they were seen as demented, delirious, or mere sorcerers and Magí Surroca is one of them, who searches old formulas to produce remedies. He is an alchemist living in Llívia, where Pau Vinyes also lives, the town doctor. Both arrive to Barcelona in a journey that will be a vital transformation. It is a moment of change, the theocentrism gives way to science.

Beatriu is another main character, she escapes from the convent of Vallbona de les Monge sans tries to get out of this stigmatization of witchery. Only the force of love and friendship and the absolute devotion to an ideal will allow an authentic life of freedom and plenitude. A novel where the characters are not black and white, they are not good or bad; the power of owning of something that heals, makes the best and the worst of each other surface. This book is like life, some people have moral interests and others prioritize the benefits, either the economical or the powersome ones. This leads us to an historic novel full of schemes placed in Llívia, where the most ancient pharmacy preserved in Europa can be found, Vallbona de les Monges, and Barcelona.

A moment of social transformation in the world, where medicine and science are two supports of the plot. The author said that she wrote the novel during the lockdown when the world was rushing to find a cure to COVID -THE ELIXIR-, everyone was scared and had mistrust but at the same time we had hope in science. As always, history repeats itself and looking at the past we can understand better the present.

A great novel, like all the novels that this author has published in her career, with all the ingredients to make the lovers on historic novels fall in love, but with something special in the background that excites me: there were people, and I want to believe that there still are today, with the intention to make the world a little better and give to the common good.

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