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The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #1)
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10/14 - West Europe > The Shadow of the Wind * Discussion

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Ruth | 681 comments What do you think so far?

message 2: by Alison (new)

Alison | 23 comments I really enjoyed this book - my favorite one so far. It was more of a mystery than I thought it would be, and mysteries are my favorite genre. There was a good amount of Spanish history, but it didn't come across as overbearing (as it sometimes did in Perla). It's nice to read a good book for the pleasure of reading and not have to think too hard about it.

message 3: by Ruth (last edited Jan 08, 2015 12:58AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ruth | 681 comments Overall, I enjoyed this novel. The characters were full of mischief and spunk and made me laugh out loud more than once, the language was beautiful, the story was unpredictable. There were some impossibilities in the narratives that bothered me.

Shadowy Barcelona? The image of the shadow was frequently evoked in the story. Almost every character seemed to be standing in the shadows, wrapped in shadows, chased by shadows or stepping out of the shadows. Shadows were everywhere. I would be interested to hear from someone with a Kindle how many times the word shadow was used.

It struck me as odd that a story as shadowy as this was located in Barcelona. I have been there a couple of times. I would describe it as bright, vibrant and full of party. I can't remember ever seeing a shadow there. People from around the world congregate there for beach holidays and disco dancing. I suppose Gaudi's architecture can look a bit spooky in the twilight. I loved the inclusion of the Barcelona walking tour in the back of the book and would love to do it someday if I find myself there again. Perhaps it will look more shadowy then.

Shadow of the Wind. Wind does not have a shadow. What does this mean? Perhaps the wind is a metaphor for emotion. Something that has the force to move you though you can't see it. Would a shadow of the wind then refer to the ghost of an emotion? Like the memory of the love between Julian and Penelope which shaded Julian's entire life?

Alternatively, perhaps the shadows were cast by the oppressive government of the time. The wind could be the lively Barcelonians who are living as shadows of themselves in fear of the oppressive regime. Perhaps that is why I could not reconcile the 1950s Barcelona of the story with the free Barcelona that I have seen.

What do you think the author meant by a Shadow of the Wind?

I began this novel by audio while driving through the southwest. I love listening to audio books. When we returned home I finished reading the paper novel. I reread the opening page and was surprised by the difference in feeling I obtained by reading. The words were all familiar, but somehow the language had not grabbed me as much while we were driving. I remember thinking 'wow this sounds dramatic.' When I read the same passage from the paper book it grabbed me as very beautiful. Perhaps I was distracted by the music used on the audio recording or the inflections of the readers speech. Perhaps listening to the audio version robbed me of the ability to make the language my own with my brain's unique interpretation. It seemed like a travesty that I had listened to the recorded version of this beautiful novel. Like the book had been wasted. Perhaps in the future I may save the lighter reading for the audio version.

On a side note -here's an article on how reading on paper stimulates your brain differently than reading on a computer screen. Hmmm - too kindle or not to kindle?

One thing that bothered me about the novel were the stories that were told by people who clearly couldn't have told them. For example, in the manuscript left to Daniel by Nuria, she describes how it felt when Miquel was shot to death 'he felt no pain, no fire...he noticed an intense cold creeping...'. Really, Nuria? The author uses the excuse of the manuscript to reveal the truth about the character's history, but it kept occurring to me that Nuria couldn't have known much of that information. She gave detailed descriptions of the courting of Julian's parents, although they never mention her meeting or speaking with Sophia. This seemed a bit lazy to me, like Zafon needed to wrap up the book in a rush to meet a publishing deadline so he spilled it all out in the voice of Nuria.

*Spoiler Alert*

Foreshadowing: The author certainly threw me off by telling us that Daniel would be dead in a week. Unlike, many mysteries where you have a good feeling that you can predict the ending, I really didn't know what was going to happen in this one. Especially since people were telling stories they couldn't have told. That made the possibility of Daniel telling his story from beyond the grave all the more likely.

In the end it was an enjoyable novel with lovable characters, a deliciously romantic plot, but some inconsistencies. I agree with Alison about the historical allusions in the book. The style was much more pleasant than in Perla. Would I read another Zafon? Perhaps, but there are a lot of books out there!

message 4: by Alison (new)

Alison | 23 comments I hadn't given the title much thought until Ruth posed the question. I'm not a big fan of wind - I don't sleep well when it's windy outside. Earlier this week, it was windy when the cold front pushed into our area. I was paying more attention to the shadows while out feeding my feral cats in the backyard, and occurred to me that not only does wind have a sound, but it changes the shadows. The shadows I don't pay much attention to suddenly seem like someone, or something, moving around. What is normally a recognizable shadow gets distorted. Maybe the title is noting that a shadow of the wind is not the same as a shadow in calm air.

Ruth, I never listen to audio books and find it interesting that there was a big difference for you in how you perceived the book's opening. I'm better at visualizing what I'm reading than I am hearing it. I saw a review you posted for "Life After Life" where you said you fast-forwarded through it because of the repetition. I didn't get bothered by that reading it. Actually, after reading "Life After Life," I read a lot of Kate Atkinson's books (I love the Jackson Brodie series). I feel like she's an intelligent writer, and I learn something from each of her books. Don't give up on her!

message 5: by Ruth (last edited Jan 11, 2015 11:46AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ruth | 681 comments Alison - wow that's a fascinating observation about the wind. I can't wait until the next windy day so that I can go and observe the shadows a little more closely than before.

I'm not a big fan of wind either and vaguely remember hearing at one point that suicide rates are higher in windy places? For me the wind feels like sorrow which you can't control. You can not stop the wind it blows through you whether you like it or not. Julian was sad throughout his life, living in the shadow of an old love.

Another thought - perhaps Daniel was the wind. Think about the moon shadow of a crooked tree through a window. You might not notice it much until the wind starts blowing. A crooked tree branch blowing in the wind on the other side of the window is a typical image invoked in scary movies. Julian & Nuria may not have been happy, but they were leading a quiet existence until Daniel came blowing along, digging up tragedies from the past and opening old wounds.

Yes I was really surprised about the difference in reading versus listening. I also listened to Michael Pollan's - Cooked on the trip. Although I am interested in food, I'm not sure I would have enjoyed the level of detail if I had read the paper version. With the audio version I still learned a lot, but I could tune in and out to sections depending on how interesting they were to me. Perhaps that's a better type of book for audio. One with more facts and less ambiance.

I think I will save stories for paper.

My mom was riding with me which also may have influenced my perception. She's not a huge fan of audio books so my worrying about whether or not she would like it may have flavored my perception a bit as well.

Miquel Reina (miquelreina) | 4 comments Although I live in Barcelona, when I was reading The Shadow of the Wind I always felt the sensation of discovering a new city, full of hidden mysteries and places I've never been before. I love Carlos Ruiz Zafon writing style. He always manages to immerse you in an atmosphere where reality and fantasy are mixed with the mystery in such a natural way that you barely notice it. And as a proud citizen of Barcelona as I am, I think this novel is an excellent way to discover this fantastic city from a completely different perspective.

Ruth | 681 comments Thank you for your local perspective. We read this book some time ago, but I really enjoyed it. The author was great at creating a mood - just mentioning the book summons up the mysterious feel to me.

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