I finished reading The Shadow of the Wind last night, and I’ve been thinking all day (between doing normal things, of course) about how I need to write a post about it, and wondering what on earth I’m going to actually write… I’ve already mentioned in a previous post that it’s magnificently written, but, now that I’ve finished the novel in its entirety, I feel like it deserves something more elaborate.
I found my copy of Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s masterpiece at a Lifeline Bookfest at the start of this year. It’s in pretty good condition, and I was amazed that anyone could just give it away (even if it is for charity). Now that I’ve actually read it for myself, I’m even more amazed that the previous owner gave it away. I have every intention of keeping this one forever (although I am open to lending it out to friends).
Shadow is one of those novels that feels very profound. A colleague of mine, when she saw that I was reading Shadow, told me quite enthusiastically about how much she loved the book. I think the thing that really made an impact for her was how the story, with all its fantastical elements, was still so real and believable. I mean, we know the story is a work of fiction, but the descriptions of the settings (time and place), and the construction of the characters, and the development of the story – there’s something compelling about it, and I almost wish the story was real (if only so I could read the works of Julian Carax, who is an author in the novel).
When I sat down to write this post, I had a look at my database of books I’ve read, and found that I’d read The Angel’s Game (also by Ruiz Zafón) almost exactly three years ago. Naturally, I searched through my blog archives for the post I did for that novel, so that I could make a comparison. I think it’s interesting that I said in that post that The Angel’s Game was “a bit slow” in certain parts, but Shadow was such a page-turner. I’m amazed that I never missed bus/train stops because I was too engrossed in the story to take any notice of my surroundings. Reading Shadow during my lunch break was likewise dangerous, but I don’t think I was ever late going back to work. It was just painful having to put the book down in the middle of its various suspenseful, revelatory or thrilling scenes.
Perhaps I wouldn’t call Shadow my most favourite novel that I’ve ever read, but there is a nice quote near the start of the novel that kind of sums up the whole experience:
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.