Books are mirrors; you only see in them what you already have inside you.
I read The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron several years ago on the recommendation of a family member. (Thanks, Sue) Ruiz Zafron is a Spanish writer whose works have been translated into more than 50 different languages and published in 45 different countries. Shadow was written in 2001 and translated into English in 2004.
Now I don’t review books and I’m not attempting to do so here; I’m only offering a suggestion on a beautifully written novel whose story is complex and mysterious and whose words read like poetry.
Once, in my father’s bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later-no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget-we will return.
From the jacket, the story itself is set in 1945 Barcelona, a city still healing from its war wounds. Daniel is an antiquarian booksellers son who is mourning the loss of his mother. He finds solace in a mysterious book entitled, The Shadow of the Wind, written by one Julian Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon, Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets, an epic story of murder, madness and doomed love.
Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and those who read it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.
The plot is complex while the story itself is a mystery, a fairy tale, a love story and an indictment of politics. It includes love, hate, courage, intrigue, loss of innocence, humor, cowardice, villainy, cruelty, compassion, regret, murder, incest and redemption.
Destiny is usually just around the corner. Like a thief, a hooker, or a lottery vendor; its three most common personifications. But what destiny does not do is home visits. You have to go for it.
If you love books and appreciate the gift of words that some writers have to take you into a story and place you in a moment, you will love reading The Shadow of the Wind. It is a book about books and the people who love them.
A story is a letter that the author writes to himself, to tell himself things that he would be unable to discover otherwise.
Reading this book may take you longer than expected. You’ll find yourself reading a page or passage and going back to read it once again or wanting to write down a line or paragraph. No need; a google search on quotes from this book will satisfy that issue.
I leaned over to cover him with the blanket he had been promising to give away to charity for years, and I kissed his forehead, as if by doing so I could protect him from the invisible threads that kept him away from me, from that tiny apartment, and from my memories. As if I believed that with that kiss I could deceive time and convince it to pass us by, to return some other day, some other life.
If you choose one day to read Shadow, please let me know what you thought of the story and the writing. As with all books, I hope you enjoy the journey.
Bea says that the art of reading is slowly dying, that it’s an intimate ritual, that a book is a mirror that offers us only what we already carry inside us, that when we read we do it with all our heart and mind, and great readers are becoming more scare by the day.