Friday, March 18, 2011

March Book Group and Book Review -- The Shadow of the Wind


My enjoyment rating: 4 of 5 stars
Book group rating: A
Challenge requirement:  What's in a Name 4 (book with movement)
Book Source:  Library copy
Sensitive reader:  profanity (including F bomb), sexual innuendo, violent situations


Daniel Sempere is the son of a bookseller. His life is books. With one trip to the “Cemetery of Forgotten Books” in the heart of Barcelona, Daniel’s life if changed forever with the discovery of “The Shadow of the Wind,” a novel by reclusive author, Julián Carax. He becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to the author and his other rare books. His curiosity turns deadly as Daniel uncovers a multi-layered story of love, friendship, violence, destruction and the power of literature.

It was unanimous – book club LOVED the book! One of the best books we’ve read as a group in a very long time.

There was so much to discuss -- every topic we delved into led to other story lines and other characters, and other scenes that were SO memorable – as if we were uncoupling a set of matryoshka dolls.

We thought the author, Carlos Ruiz Zafón, did an amazing job creating two parallel stories within one – Daniel’s search for the reclusive Julián Carax and the underlying story of Julian’s childhood and his eternal love for Penelope, sister of his best friend Jorge.

There were twists and turns at every chapter. The imagery was extraordinarily beautiful. The entire story was centered in the heart of Barcelona, and we all felt as if we had been on the streets watching this saga unfold. There wasn’t a single scene that didn’t involve rain or damp or snow or mist – I shivered and felt the gloom envelope me throughout my reading.

We spent much of our discussion reading aloud some of our favorite passages (there were so many it’s impossible to reprint them here). We heaped high praise on the translator, Lucia Graves, for her ability to bridge the eloquence between the original Spanish and the English translation. It was truly a work of art.

That’s not to say there wasn’t some criticism…some of us thought that the author didn’t portray the age of the characters accurately enough or the timing of significant events. Also, because of the complexity of the characters and story line, it was difficult at times to keep it straight. I would explain in more detail, but those events are so crucial to the story line, I don’t want to spoil it!!

This was a treasure to read and a treasure to discuss. A perfect book club selection.

For a brief discussion from the author about The Shadow of the Wind AND his second novel, The Angel's Game, please check out the related video: