Monday, December 27, 2010
Barcelona, 1945. A great world city lies shrouded in secrets after the war, and a boy mourning the loss of his mother finds solace in his love for an extraordinary book called The Shadow of the Wind, by an author named Julian Carax. When the boy searches for Carax's other books, it begins to dawn on him, to his horror, that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book the man has ever written. Soon the boy realizes that The Shadow of the Wind is as dangerous to own as it is impossible to forget, for the mystery of its author's identity holds the key to an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love that someone will go to any lengths to keep secret.
Shadow of the Wind is an historical fiction, a novel filled with twisty turny plot lines and characters that keep you guessing and wondering. It's the story of a young Spaniard, Daniel who searches for what happened to the author of a mysterious book. Their lives parallel in this literary mystery. It kept me guessing throughout with imaginative and memorable characters as well.
Young Daniel Sempere is introduced to the "Cemetery for Books" with his father at a young age. The son of a bookstore owner, Daniel is appreciative of this honor. He is allowed to select one book to keep. What is that book? The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax. A relatively unheard of author, Daniel's story begins with his discovery of Julian's book - and his fascination that evolves in regard to the mysterious author. Daniel devours the book and longs to read more by Julian, but alas the books are hard to find and Daniel soon learns that a mysterious person that resembles a character in The Shadow of the Wind is following him, and wants the book. This person is destroying every copy of Julian's books that still exist. Why? Who is this person with a leather mask for a face?
Over the course of this interesting and sometimes poignant journey of Daniel's, we see him grow up into a young man. We get to know Daniel and the many special people in his life, such as his good friend and confidante, the beloved Fermin, one of my favorites in the book. As Daniel learns more about Julian Carax, we realize Daniel's life, in one particular way, parallels Julian's. Both fall in love with a young women forbidden to them. I was kept guessing throughout the book and had all sorts of ideas and theories about who was who and what was the big secret. I was wrong most of the time, but it made it all the more an enjoyable read/listen. I must admit, it was a very clever story!
Listening to this on audio was worthwhile for the Spanish names and expressions are fresh in my mind, and I know that if I had read it in print, I would have mangled all the Spanish pronunciations (I've never studied the language) and I feel fortunate I listened to it instead. Narrated by Daniel Philpott, he did a fantastic job with all the voices, accents, pronunciations, etc. I was sympathetic towards all the characters, his voice flowed through the story making it seamless and soothing to me as I listened while going about my daily routine of commuting, folding laundry, making dinner, working out - you name it.
A memorable story, a mystery within a mystery and any book lover will appreciate the storyline for it revolves around a book! Not only that, the era and setting is unique to me, I am now eager to visit Barcelona one day. The mystery of what happens to Julian has many layers and I found it riveting, as well as Daniel's story and how the two merge and come together. A brilliantly planned out novel, executed perfectly. Very well done. Ironically enough, I started reading this a few years ago and put it down, I just wasn't in the right mood for it at the time. I'm glad I picked the novel up again and listened to it instead. If you are like me, give it another try or keep with it, it gets better and better as the story progresses.
I highly recommend this novel, I'm sorry it took me so long to read it, but I'm glad I finally did!