Sunday, 24 January 2016

The Shadow of the Wind

I have continued to be a bad blogger and allowed books to pile up, unreviewed. I took on a new knitting project and so after we finished 'Night Waking', Monkey and I have sat and listened to 'the Shadow of the Wind' by Carlos Ruiz Zaf√≥n on audiobook. This was a totally wonderful book. It is the story of a book, or, I suppose, the story of the author. Our hero Daniel, son of a second-hand bookseller, finds a copy of 'The Shadow of the Wind' in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, and then gets drawn in to the mystery of its author Julian Carax and why someone wishes to destroy his books. As a young boy he falls under the spell of the enigmatic Clara, daughter of a book dealer, and this in turn brings him into contact with a homeless man called Fermin, with who's help he investigates the mystery. A tragic love story unfolds, of Julian and Penelope, but all the time, in the background there is the insidious presence of Fumero, a former schoolmate who, through the passage of time and the civil war, has become a corrupt policeman. So we follow the trail, picking up snippets of information from characters along the way, as Daniel grows into a young man. In his turn falls in love with Beatrice, his best friend's sister, in a wonderful reflection of the situation in Carax's life, where Penelope was the sister of his school friend Jorge. In fact there are several times through the story where events in Daniels life mirror what happened to Julian, dropped in very cleverly to draw the two of them together, as if fate has some kind of hand in the events of their lives. The background of the Spanish Civil War is present in the political and social upheaval, and the element of fear and uncertainty, but it does not dominate the story. It is another story of feuds and friendship, and of the relationships between fathers and sons, but it is the loyal housekeepers, neighbouring shopkeepers and sidekick policemen that do much of the holding the story together. We enjoyed trying to figure out what was going on, who was who and how things fit together, and then were disappointed when the last three CDs were basically a letter from Nuria to Daniel explaining the whole story to him; it was very frustrating to have it all tied up so neatly and completely, with no loose ends, and then the final chapter just gave them all a 'happy ever after'.  Having said that it was a fascinating premise for a story and the whole book was very cleverly written, I can certainly see why it has developed such an enthusiastic following.  

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