Barcelona with its gothic streets, and the many hidden corners and shadowy arch ways are characters and moods of The Shadow of the Wind. An old forgotten book, relegated to the dusty shelves of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books…….
The book, written by Spanish author Carlos Ruiz Zafon is one of my all time favourite Spanish novels. …..
Daniel, who lives with his father above a book shop in Barcelona, first learns of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books as a ten year old. He is told by his father that he can choose one book from the dusty shelves. He chooses ‘ The Shadow of the Wind’ by Julian Carax. But he is not the only one to find the book interesting – as he grows up, he soon discovers that a lot of people want to know about this book and are in a hurry to do so. Daniel realises he has to find out about the life and death of Julian Carax and to try and save those he left behind…
The journey starts at the bookshop on Calle Santa Ana:
A beautifully mysterious and shadowy street in the gothic quarter that leads on to La Rambla and the main tourist areas. However, this fact has not spoilt the eerie atmosphere you feel walking down Calle Santa Ana as I passed the people I imagined Daniel would have done as he wandered to and from the bookstore. I could clearly hear the voices from the Shadow of the Wind, whispering and singing as I walked down and looked around for the first stop on my literary journey…I was about to wander in Daniel’s footsteps but am sure I felt a whisper beside me and a presence as I did so. I hoped it was Daniel walking with me… showing me around his world..
Daniel lived with his father up above and he would sit here dreaming of his books and of Clara. And wondering about the mysterious author Carax whose book he found.
Speaking of Clara – wandering off the Plaza real, I visited the apartment where Daniel met her. Where he saw her there and his world was shattered, and where he first comes across Fermin Romero de Torres. The arches and the palm trees providing a nice dance of shadows on each of the windows. The square has a unique atmosphere – you feel it has so many secrets and stories to tell amongst its arches and hidden corners. I was back that night – the darkness added more depth and mystery and I saw Daniel’s feelings for Clara and his fright at his meeting with Fermin even more profound.
Last stop on the first part of the tour was the cemetery of books itself. The arch leading to Calle Arco del Teatro was unwelcoming and dark but I wandered down it and found a myriad of surprising characters hanging around the streets – I imagined not unlike those that Daniel may have wanted to avoid. I sensed the heavy doors hiding secret tomes and histories behind them. I smelt the old damp streets and the dust of the walls soon covered my shoes. It was as if I had literally walked into the novel for there were no tourists here. Just some figure– not unlike Lain Coubert himself.
There were no passers-by in this alley – I could only hear the voices of those in nearby streets. It was as if Barcelona, in this alley way at least, was muffled and forgotten. It was hard to identify the place where the cemetery of books was hidden as all doorways or memories of them were akin to faceless and unmarked gravestones. An ideal place for a cemetery of books.
I didn’t stay long – I felt someone was watching me and so I hurried along, my face hidden in my scarf not only to keep the dust off my face but to keep this scar of Barcelona from my mind. But the Cemetery of Books had left its mark and my literary journey was far from over….