Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The Shadow Of The Wind

The Shadow Of The Wind

By Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Penguin 2001

A book that is two stories, about a book, which becomes a never ending story about the book, which serves as the catalyst for the mystery that is the spine of this very good novel. Confused?  Good, I was; and having read it was very pleased I had found the book on my e-reader, the first time I’ve used it properly. So, to the book...
Translated from Spanish, I was first attracted by the idea that there would be a place known as the ‘cemetery for forgotten books’. What a fantastic name for a book shop – (Waterstones, take note!) So, having acquired a book based on one sentence, off I went. And what a journey! I have been to post war Barcelona, I visited the Spanish civil war, and I went back as far as the First World War times. But, I hasten to add, it is nothing to do with war. It is a love story, a mystery, and a darn good yarn.
As usual, I won’t discuss the plot in detail, but it does involve Daniel discovering a book that had been tucked away on a bookshelf. We are then taken on the journey of the book, the history of the author, and the mystery that surrounds both, from the point of view of the new owner. We flit between eras, families and histories, but it is done in a seamless fashion, and it is quite easy to follow the flow, and switching between the component parts of the plot is easy to do. To my mind, the only down side is the very neat ending, we have been exposed to dysfunctional, mysterious and various odd people over the course of the book, it was a little disappointing that it all turned out in the way that Barbara Cartland might have finished it. Until, that is, the very last bit, when the never ending story concept comes to life.
The writing is ink flowing in the most extraordinary way. The lyrical, flowing way that scenes are portrayed, emotions explored and characters built is second to none. Pictures flood off of the pages, the lights and darks, the personalities and the landscapes all become vivid in the words; sentences that make you wish you could write like that. It is pleasing that nothing appears to have been lost in the translation from Spanish to English. In classic literature, it is like Wilkie Collins meets Thomas Hardy.
I thoroughly recommend this story, even if it some years old. The tale itself is timeless so there are no contemporary issues. I wonder if the only issue might be finding a copy, but if all searches to acquire a copy fail, you could also check out the ‘cemetery of forgotten books’, but be very, very careful if you find a copy there...

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