The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

by HRevvdon@evpl on Monday, April 27 2009, 10:41am. Viewed 592 times.

This novel was recommended to me by a new acquaintance who told me that it was her favorite book.  I have since talked to a couple of friends that have read it and had mixed reactions.  The Shadow of the Wind (2005 translation) was a bestseller in Spain, and is set in 1950 – 1960’s Barcelona - a politically charged and violent time period for that country.

I listened to this book, which is lengthy, while on a long car trip.  I may not have gotten all the nuances because I listened to it as opposed to reading.  I found interesting and the writing remarkably well done considering it is a translation - especially in the metaphors the author uses.  The characters are relatively well drawn.

Daniel Sempere is introduced to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books by his father, who runs a used book store.  He is admonished that he must never tell anyone about what he sees there.    Daniel finds an obscure novel by Julian Carax, he is drawn to the book, and it becomes his task to make sure the book is never completely forgotten.  It is an interesting premise, but it pretty much ends there.  The rest of the book is really about Daniel seeking to find out more about Carax.  Carax's novels have been systematically destroyed by a mysterious disfigured man - a phantom of sorts.  I would have liked to have read more about the Cemetery of Forgotten Books - it is like it is a minor character in this novel when it should have more meaning/involvement.

We follow Daniel's life as an almost parallel to the life he discovers Carax lived.  There are several story lines going on at once and it is impossible to give a brief description here, but the stories twist and turn through a labyrinth of mazes that centers on the politics and personal trials and tribulations of the characters that Daniel discovers.  It is a story of love, hate, politics, and prejudice.

The novel did not captivate me as I thought it would.  It was a good read, but I did not think it exceptional.  It is a book that you may read more for the writing than the story.


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