Customer Review

27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars rave reviews may deceive you, 28 Aug. 2008
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This review is from: The Shadow Of The Wind (Paperback)
'Ah'thought I when I opened the novel and started reading, secure in the belief that here was a masterpiece since more than 200 people had loved it'this is a book I'm going to enjoy'. Well... 300 pages into it and I went back to Amazon to re check the reviews and discovered what I had missed so far, mainly that more than 40 people had hated it, some going as far as calling it drivel. Well, those reviewers may have been a bit harsh but on the whole I had to agree with them.
It starts very well with the wonderful idea of a cemetery for forgotten books where the visitor on his first visit can choose a book , any book ,that he 'adopts' and becomes responsible for. Young Daniel chooses such a book and discovers a wonderful author into whose world he can lose himself. Determined to find more of the same he is intrigued when he learns that Julian Carax's books have mostly disappeared because a strange figure is roaming the streets of the world offering to buy them and then destroying them. He decides to go on a mission to discover who this Julian is, the life he led , what became of him...
A superb premise, isn't it? Unfortunately, after a few 100 pages we are deep into cheap, hard to credit melodrama, and the book loses nearly all of its appeal. What really did it for me was the manicheism of the characters. They are either angels or demons, hardly any in between and so extreme in their behaviour that they seem to leap out of some rubbish comic strip. What of the horrible inspector Javier Fumero! Why didn't anybody get rid of him? This maniacal police inspector who loves nothing more than to torture, maim and humiliate could easily have been dealt with. So many characters know they are going to die at his hands, so why not kill him first and be executed later if death is what you are going to get anyway? It would have saved many people.And there is too much sex in that novel, I mean too much of the kind that gives you nausea, the husband enjoying his wife while covering her eyes and telling her she is a slut kind of sex. Too much wifebeating as well. I know it's Barcelona in 1945 but why dwell so long on each scene and why assume that Spaniards during Franco's rule beat their wives so much.
As for Fermin, daniel 's great friend, I soon grew tired of his insuferable boasting and bottom pinching. This scrawny carcass of a man pretending to be an expert on things of the heart and pinching the bottoms of all the women he meets.How ridiculous!But the worst for me is still to come. It concerns the scene when poor Don Federico, a harmless cross dresser, is taken by inspector Fumero and jailed with criminals who are going to rape him. The following day, a neighbour, someone who likes Federico and takes pity on him, will inform the neighbourhood of what befell Federico in such vivid details and florid language that you just know that no one who cared for him could tell it this way, as if it were a laughing matter, something that rhetoric could embellish. I was disgusted; And when Fermin is asked to go and enquire after Don Federico's health and offer his support he comes back with news that finish with, quote "...the doctor had diagnosed as having 3 broken ribs....and an uncommonly severe rectal tear" Was this sentence necessary?It made me livid to read such heartless account of the rape of a supposed homosexual.Unless I missed the whole point and should have found it funny? Well I certainly didn't!
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 9 Dec 2008 14:38:01 GMT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Oct 2009 12:59:04 BDT
Last edited by the author on 12 Oct 2009 13:00:26 BDT
I support the rights of homosexuals passionately and wholeheartedly, and I did not find any of his sexual references offensive in the slightest. On the contrary, Zafon makes a brilliant statement on the ethical stereotypes of the era he's narrating- this is not 2009 England. The incident that you're mentioning proves nothing less than Zafon's ability to deliver great character exposition- this is what Fumero would do, and this is they way Fumero's counterparts of today still think unfortunately. Same goes for Fermin. He is not depicted as a scholar, never did his character was presented as an educated erudite.

I did not find that there were too many sex scenes in the story either, let alone graphical or stereotypical. As a woman, this was one of the great occasions a male author managed to capture me in an erotic scene. To talk about misogyny, when the author belauds femininity throughout the whole book is just plain ridiculous.

Mrs L. Britt, I'm afraid I have to disagree with you. I just fail to see how a novel that won critical acclaim throughout the globe and won a bunch of literary prizes (literary prizes are not Grammies, you see), thus enthroning Zafon as Spain's most popular author, is 'definitely' not good fiction. Opinions are subjective, but some criteria are inevitably objective I'm afraid, so some modesty in our statements will simply make them more credible.

Posted on 9 Mar 2010 15:50:23 GMT
Last edited by the author on 9 Mar 2010 15:50:58 GMT
Eileen Shaw says:
I'm with Tras de las parabras all the way in this argument.
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