I was interested in reading this book for several reasons. My aunt had given me the book (after she finished it) a year or so ago, and it’s sat on my bookshelf, entreating me to read it ever since. I didn’t even know what the book was about, until I saw it on a list of books set in bookstores. As an added bonus, the author’s name starts with Z, which fill a hole in my Alphabet Challenge (which is how I’m picking lots of my books as the year ends).
Published: 2001 in Spanish, 2004 in the U.S.
Length: 487 pages
Setting: Barcelona, Spain, 1945-1966
Summary: One day, Daniel’s father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books to pick out a book. Daniel finds The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax. He loves the book so much, he wants to read more by Carax. Unfortunately, it seems that someone has gone around and burned every known copy of every Carax novel printed. Daniel starts investigating Carax’s story, which takes him to several prominent members of Barcelona. He’s helped by several friends, including a man living on the street who now helps at his father’s bookstore. Daniel’s also distracted from his search by a love affair with his best friend’s sister. He learns the whole story at the end.
Final thoughts: This book was a slow start. I ended up reading at least two other books in the middle of this one. One of the draws of the book at the beginning was the setting in the bookstore, but it turns out that wasn’t really integral to the plot. Even the fascinating Cemetery of Forgotten Books (I would totally love to wander around that place!) only got a glancing inclusion in the story. Instead, it was all about the mystery of what happened to Julian Carax and who was trying to erase his books. Mysteries never thrill me. I don’t not like them, but they don’t draw me in to read what happens next.
However, when we get to the end and the whole story was revealed, that was riveting. There were several twists that explained holes in Daniel’s knowledge perfectly, but I totally didn’t see coming. In some ways, Daniel’s life echoed that of Carax’s, particularly in love. Luckily, Daniel got his happily ever after, whereas Carax only got bitterness and despair.
Title comes from: It was the title of the Carax novel that Daniel found that drove the plot. It is also the last words of the book.
Reading challenges fulfilled: #84 in my Maybe 100 This Year Challenge, and a Z in my Author Reading the Alphabet Challenge
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