L’ombra del vento

May 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

This is my second Oscar Mondadori publishing book; my second 500-page novel in Italian that I devoured.  Looks like it’s time to go stock up on some more Mondadori bestsellers.

“Ogni libro, ogni volume che vedi possiede un’anima, l’anima di chi lo ha scritto e l’anime di coloro che lo hanno letto, di chi ha vissuto e di chi ha sognato grazie a esso.”

L’ombra del vento tells the story of a boy in 1940’s Barcellona that finds a book in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books- a tradition of visiting the sacred place on one’s eleventh birthday that runs in the family.  The book that Daniel picked, L’ombra del vento, is written by a mysterious Julián Carax, a phantom that soons begins to haunt Daniel’s mind and life.  As he tries to find out more about the author, he finds himself in an exceedingly dangerous plot- a twisted reflection of the book’s own course of events.  With a cast that includes murderers, bookshop keepers, comical detectives, iron inspectors, and an assembly of ghosts from the past, Daniel tries to break out of the cycle already written for him.  Yet, the more he tries to resist the path that life’s events are taking him down on, the closer he gets to the tragic conclusion of the mysterious book.

And yet, at the heart of it, the book is merely a simple love story- for a girl and for literature.

I enjoyed this book for its many layers of secrets and continuously-developing discoveries.  I don’t want to spoil anything, but the ending isn’t quite dark enough for me- but the 418 pages leading up to it are.  And it nailed the theme of star-crossed lovers with tragic endings, which I always admire.  And it played wonderfully with time; skipping back and forth between time periods and characters, so you never really knew what to expect.

“Solo allora… avevo compreso che si trattava di una storia di gente sola, di assenza e di perdita e che proprio per questo vi avevo cercato rifugio, fino a confonderla con la mia vita.  Che mi sentivo come chi fugge nelle pagine di un romanzo perché gli oggetti del suo amore sono soltanto ombre che vivono nell’anima di uno sconosciuto.”

And, as it did deal with writers in post-war Europe, it did have some beautiful quotes about life, books, immortality, and the fragility of love.  If you’re craving a dark fiction story, I recommend this book.  Just don’t begin reading it before any big appointments- not sure you’ll be able to find a stopping point in time.


“…poche cose impressionano un lettore quanto il primo libro capace di toccargli davvero il cuore.  L’eco di parole che crediamo dimenticate ci accompagna per tutta la vita ed erige nella nostra memoria un palazzo al quale- non importa quanti altri libri leggeremo, quanti mondi scopriremo, quante cose apprenderemo o dimenticheremo- prima o poi faremo ritorno.”


L’ombra del vento is written by  Carlos Ruiz Zafón and was originally published in Spanish as La sombra del viento.  The English translation, by Lucia Graves, is entitled The Shadow of the Wind.


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