24 June 2009

The Shadow of the Wind (Carlos Ruiz Zafon)

Coming to you live on Alcott and Earhart, the inaugural and probably the last 'Book-you-probably-didn't-miss-but-I-did-miss-until-just-now' post. I feel like I am just about the last person in the world (or at least in my bookshop) to read The Shadow of the Wind. After months of hearing from a colleague that it is one of her favourites/is so good/is a real cracker, after having droves of customers come in and ask for 'that book with the big book graveyard and it's Spanish I think' I finally read it. Never have I had more comments from customers when they saw what I was reading - every second person who came in expressed either joy that I was reading it or shock that I work in a book shop and was only just reading The Shadow of the Wind.

So I finally did it. The verdict? Very good.

1940s Barcelona, a boy is taken to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books where he must choose one book which he must treasure for life. He chooses The Shadow of the Wind by the mysterious Julian Carax, and becomes obsessed with unraveling the mystery of the author. In a nutshell.

Out of a nutshell - this book has got just about everything you could ask for - historical stuff, mystery, romance, musings on the wonder of literature, a psychopathic corrupt policeman, even comedy! I think that's the one that surprised me the most - there is a great character named Fermin, a once homeless man who befriends our protagonist Daniel, who doles out a few fabulous one-liners. And the thing is - this is a book that is not any one genre really, so if someone doesn't want romance, just don't tell them about it... it's not an overpowering plot element, so if they don't think it's a romance they probably won't care about the romance. (Going into bookseller mode a bit there).

So now you can either go read it, OR comment and tell me that you can't believe I've only just read it, being a bookseller and all...

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