Tag Archives: books

“The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon


Barcelona, 1945.  (WWII didn’t affect Barcelona/Spain nearly as much as the revolution concluded in 1939, apparently.)  Daniel Sempere, son of a bookseller, finds a novel, “The Shadow of the Wind” by Julian Carax.  Carax novels are very rare, because someone has been actively looking for them and burning them.  Daniel is greatly inspired by the book and strives to protect it as well as find out more about the author, who also has a mysterious past and whose whereabouts are unknown.

The book consists of Daniel finding people connected to Carax and interviewing them.  It is interesting because not every person is a reliable witness.  Some deliberately try to mislead him.  So it is fun to try to figure out the story.  The main suspect as to the identity of the main bad guy, for instance, changes at least three times.

This is all set against the backdrop of Daniel’s coming of age and falling in love.  Interestingly, a lot of details from Carax’s life seem to be replicated in Daniel’s own.  Furthermore, there is the backdrop of the aftermath of a brutal war and ensuing witchhunts, along with survivor’s guilt etc.

Pretty good story; kind of a mystery, kind of a love story.  Similar to another Spanish-language novel I have written about on this blog, I couldn’t help but thinking at the end that all these people’s problems would have been solved if they could just have kept it in their pants…


“The Name of the Rose” by Umberto Eco

William of Baskerville and his apprentice Adso, Franciscan monk versions of Sherlock and Watson, arrive at an abbey in northern Italy in 1327, shortly before a conference on the poverty debate is set to begin between emissaries of the Avignon pope and those of the Franciscan order.  A mysterious murder has occurred and is followed by one more each day.  William investigates and eventually cracks the case, of course.

Lots of history here about the medieval church, and associated issues.  Interesting story, but it kind of dragged along and was a chore to read, until the last 50 pages or so…then the action really picks up for an exciting conclusion.

Favorite line: “Quickly!  He’s eating the Aristotle!”

(note: the cover picture is not actually the edition I read.  Couldn’t find that one…actually I think it was a re-done, blank library cover. )