2013: The Shadow of the Wind

"I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time."

The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Here we have another entry in the "fantastic books leant to me by Misha Preheim" series.  Part of me feels like a doofus for not having read this before - it seems like the kind of book that would appear on "100 books to read before you die" or some other such list, because I had definitely heard of The Shadow of the Wind, but I'd never read it.  Poor me - because this is exactly exactly the kind of book I like best, and all these years it wasn't in my head.

It starts with one of the greatest opening scences possible for a booklover.  Our narrator, Daniel lives alone with his father, a bookseller, who one day takes him to a place called the Cemetery of of Forgotten Books.  There he is instructed to take one forgotten book, and make it his own - so it will be remembered.  He becomes obsessed with the book - The Shadow of the Wind - and its mysterious author, Julian Carfax, and the rest of the book details the way his life is shaped by his quest.  And, like all such novels, there is a mysterious past, and a love stories to spare. But what makes the book particularly special is the setting - it is set in the late 1940's - in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War (and of World War II) and, the war and its impact on the people is almost another character in the story.  Certainly it makes that era, and the aftermath of the war real to me in a way that other books hadn't.  And, of course, the entire thing is a love letter to the power of writing and stories.  Just charming.

The only thing that suprised me - or wasn't what I expected - was that, when I first started the book, I thought that what with the Cemetary of Forgotten books and all, this was going to be a fantasy element - and maybe it its - but the rest of the book is pretty realistic, so the change caught me off guard a bit.  But its such a cool idea, I decided to go with it.

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017