Talk about a book that brings you somewhere! I'd recently found this book sheltering in one of the many bookcases that are scattered around the house. I picked it up and read the first few pages - I was hooked pretty quickly too.
It's a Gothic tale set in Barcelona between the second world war and the sixties but encompasses a history that comes before that - confused? It gets better. The book's protagonist Daniel Sempere finds a book in a Cemetery of Forgotten Books whose story and writer gets under his skin so much that Daniel sets off on a long quest to find out why this book and others that the illusive author has written are being systematically destroyed, and additionally where the long lost writer has disappeared to.
The main genre of the book is Gothic with a narrative style reminding this reader of so many 19th century novels of the Literature course AA316 last year: Madame Bovary, The Portrait of A Lady, The Woman in White, Northanger Abbey, Middlemarch etc. In other words a rich literary allusive treasure trove of a book. The writing is at times very evocative: the opening description of a dawn scene in Barcelona describes the light as pouring over 'Rambla de Santa Monica in a wreath of liquid copper.'
The Shadow of The Wind was one of those books that really encapsulates and simultaneously investigates the sensation of reading, where a book grips your imagination so much that you are reluctant to 'lose the story's spell or bid farewell to its characters.' Places and characters are described and built up so well that this reader felt like she'd spent a good while in old Barcelona, during the reign of fear of Franco's time.
I know I come late to the party with this book, discovering it long after the fuss has died down about it. But I really enjoyed all the tricks - especially since I've just finished the prose part of my Creative Writing course - the techniques being illustrated in the writing of Carlos Ruiz Zafon, and so ably translated by Lucia Graves.