THE SHADOW OF THE WIND – Another Look

THE SHADOW OF THE WIND by Carlos Ruiz-Safron is one of the best books I have read in more than a few decades of reading.  I posted a review of the book on July 1, 2010, although I had read the book when it was published a few years earlier.  Anyone who loves books and loves reading should treat themselves to this story which is about the love of the written word.  There is great joy in this book.  Unfortunately, the author wrote a prequel, THE ANGEL’S GAME, but it was without the love only a bibliophile can understand and it fell far short of THE SHADOW OF THE WIND.

THE SHADOW OF THE WIND – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Posted on July 1, 2010 by Beth

I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time.  Has there ever been an opening sentence so calculated to ensnare the lovers of books?

The Cemetery of Forgotten books is a secret place in Barcelona; the knowledge of its existence is passed from generation to generation.  Daniel Sempere is taken their by his father, a bookseller.  Books, Daniel is told, have souls.  They contain the souls of the author and the souls of all who read them and for whom they inspire dreams. Every time a library or a bookstore closes, the guardians of the books rescue them and protect them until they can be brought back into the light of day.  The first time someone comes to the Cemetery of Forgotten books, they choose a book and it becomes the life-long responsibility of the person who takes it.  The book Daniel chooses is THE SHADOW OF THE WIND by Julian Carax.

Daniel is so enthralled by the book that he is determined to find all the other books written by the author. But he finds that someone is ahead of him, finding Carax’s books and destroying them. One day, Daniel, as an adult, is confronted by the man who is determined to erase Carax’s name and existence. Now, Daniel becomes determined to discover the secrets of the man who wrote THE SHADOW OF THE WIND and the man who wants it destroyed.

THE SHADOW OF THE WIND is a story filled with joy. Carlos Ruiz Zafon places the narrative in the period after WWII when Spain is controlled by Francisco Franco and there are spies everywhere, watching every moment of an individuals life.  Daniel is shadowed by the police but he is also shadowed by the mysterious figure who wants his book. But this is a book about the power of words to transform lives, to broaden them, and make them richer. And so, there is joy and hope.

The Rap Sheet blog had a poll asking readers to vote on which mystery/crime novel was the best of the decade.  THE SHADOW OF THE WIND didn’t win but I was reminded, again, of what a wonderful book it is

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3 Responses to THE SHADOW OF THE WIND – Another Look

  1. Condorena says:

    For me THE SHADOW OF THE WIND was exactly as you describe it, one of the best books I ever read, not only one of the best mysteries. This is not a book that you would take to the beach because you would still mentally be in Barcelona in another era. You might lose all sense of time and leave the beach in a sad condition, either semi-drowned by the ocean as the tide comes in and washes over you or fried to crispy bacon.

  2. This sounds like something I never would’ve picked up–but now will. What a mystical, haunting sounding book–and what a mystical, haunting review. Thank you.

  3. Beth says:

    Condorena, there are few books that put the reader in a place in such a way that the menace is palpable and, in the book, the menace is real. What is so absorbing about the book is that Daniel and his father survive with values intact while living under a fascist dictatorship. Franco was no different than Hitler or Mussolini. He was not part of the Axis powers during the war because Spain hadn’t recovered from the ruinous civil war that brought Franco to power.

    Jenny, the idea of a cemetery for lost books pulled me into the story. This is one that once started can’t be put down. Daniel’s father is a wonderful character, too. I’m glad you like the review. The point of the blog has been to encourage readers to try books they may not have come across. The author writes that words build a palace in our hearts. How can a reader not love this book?

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