The Shadow of the Wind: A Fellowship of the Worms Experience

August 15, 2013 Book Club, Mystery, Psychological 29

smarty mcwordypantsGreetings, Bookworms! The Fellowship of the Worms is back in session. Our book club choice this month was The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron. WARNING: We will be discussing the WHOLE book. This will no doubt include SPOILERS. If you did not read the book and would like to participate, pick up a copy of The Shadow of the Wind and give it a read. This post will be here waiting for you when you finish. Now that the particulars are out of the way, I’ll remind you of the premise here. I’ll pose questions in bold and answer them in regular type.  If you don’t want your opinions influenced by my rantings, stick to the bold first. :)

1. When Daniel describes Carax’s novel within the novel (of the same name… because that’s not even a tiny bit confusing) The Shadow of the Wind, he says, “As it unfolded, the structure of the story began to remind me of one of those Russian dolls that contain innumerable ever-smaller dolls within” (p. 7).This book contained the threads of narratives for several different stories. Did you find yourself intrigued by following the pieces of the puzzle or confused by the similarities in the tales?

Brutal honesty here: I had a hard time getting into this book. I don’t know if it was just that I kept reading while I was really tired, but I got a little frustrated keeping the characters straight. Because Julian and Daniel’s tales in particular were so similar, I found myself thinking things like “Wait… Was this Julian? Was this Daniel? Gah! Go back three pages!” That said, once I did get sucked in, I was hooked. There was a certain beauty in the similarities of the characters’ stories. I think Daniel’s description of the Russian dolls is most appropriate.

Things you shouldn't be surprised that I own... Russian nesting dolls: penguin style.

Things you shouldn’t be surprised that I own… Russian nesting dolls: penguin style.

2. Were you able to guess Lain Coubert’s identity before it was revealed?

I didn’t immediately realize that Coubert was indeed Carax, but I definitely had it figured out before it was laid out in plain language. Once it was revealed that Fermin (who didn’t LOVE Fermin?!) was tormented with a blowtorch by Fumero, I was CONVINCED that Fumero had somehow tracked down Julian and tortured him in a similar fashion resulting in his burns. I was wrong… Though I still think that would have been an interesting twist. 

3. What is with all the incest? Seriously. We are now 2 for 2 on the incest in our Fellowship choices. This time it was purely accidental, thanks to the elder Aldaya being a man whore AND being vain enough to want his illegitimate offspring within his grasp. Were you shocked by the revelation?

I wasn’t. Why? I’d seen very similar storylines play out on both House, MD and Law & Order: SVU. In each of those cases, a philandering father had messed around outside his marriage and tried desperately to keep his star-crossed offspring away from each other. Come on, guys. If you’re going to screw around and you see your kids falling in love, or even hanging out? You come clean. The worst part was that it was all Aldaya’s own fault that Julian and Penelope even MET because he was disappointed in Jorge, his legitimate heir. HUBRIS. UGH.


4. Dreams and premonitions come up quite a bit in this book. Jacinta and Carax in particular had their dreams come to fruition. Since Miquel was so obsessed with Freud, let’s take a psychological approach. How do you interpret the various characters’ dream-induced premonitions?

I am not great with dream interpretations, since I only ever have anxiety dreams. I suppose the manifestation of the devil in Jacinta’s dreams could have been a sigh of her future heartbreak… Julian and Penelope dreamed of eachother, but that wasn’t really a good thing since they were siblings! Mostly though? The dreams were just sort of creepily psychic.

5. Since we’re playing psychologist here, how’s about a nature vs. nurture discussion? Julian Carax was the bastard son of his musically inclined mother and Aldaya, the unscrupulous business man, though he’s raised by the cuckhold hatter, Fortuny. Fumero is the son of an honest groundskeeper and a status seeking attention starved mother. How are the sins of the parents meted out on their offspring? Given their similarly screwed up childhoods, what do you think was the largest factor divergence of Carax and Fumero’s paths?

Sins of the parents? Whooo boy. Julian is raised by a “father” who is well aware that Julian is not his biological son. Fortuny is emotionally and physically abusive of both Julian and his mother, so that sucked pretty hard. As if that weren’t punishment enough for his mother’s misdeeds, poor Julian unwittingly knocks up his half sister, thanks to his biological father’s douchbaggery. That’s pretty grim punishment for the sins of one’s parents, wouldn’t you say?

And Fumero. That kid’s mom did a number on his psyche, what with the implied sexual abuse and her parading around in her underpants… Not to MENTION that god awful sailor suit. Personally, I think Fumero’s mom had a whole lot of mental illness going on and that she passed some of that to her son on a genetic level. He was displaying serial killer tendencies as a child, and the older he got the crazier and more violent he got. Things that are not the hobbies of mentally stable people: torturing other people with blow torches. Just. No. (I may have done a little cheer when that son of a gun got his comeuppance!)

6. All in all, how’d you like this one, Bookworms?

I very much enjoyed this book, despite my early reluctance with it. I’m rather attached to Daniel and Bea and want to know what becomes of their son and the Cemetery of Forgotten Books! I’m thinking I may need to read the rest of this series to put my curiosity to rest! I hope everyone had as much fun as I did this month. For next month, I’m excited to announce that our selection will be Attachments by Rainbow Rowell! (Not only is she completely amazing, she also responded to my weird tweet. I LOVE YOU, RAINBOW!!!)


29 Responses to “The Shadow of the Wind: A Fellowship of the Worms Experience”

  1. Megan M.

    I didn’t read this one, either. Sounds confusing though! A story within the story with the same name and a lot of the characters have similar sounds in their names… I probably would have given up. I hate having to backtrack pages to see who’s talking/what POV it is.

    I can’t wait for the Attachments sesh though! I commented on a post of Rainbow’s on Facebook, and she TAGGED me in a reply. There’s an email I’ll creepily save forever: “Rainbow Rowell mentioned you on Facebook.” (I didn’t really, but I thought about it.)

  2. kristinshafel

    I just downloaded this audio on my iPod for my road trip this weekend!! Looking forward to it (and then I’ll come back and read the post 🙂 )

    • Words for Worms

      Excellent! I can’t wait to see how the audio book is! I took Spanish in high school and college, so I feel like I probably mentally pronounced the names correctly, but it would be cool to hear them spoken. Plus Castillian Spanish has a different accent than Latin American Spanish (which is what I’m more familiar with.) Basically? They lisp the ‘s’ to a ‘th’ sound. I don’t do that mentally so… Yeah. Lemme know how it is!

  3. clawsomemanno

    Ah, I wish I’d known about this because I did finish it a few days ago. It’s quite a lovely, lovely book. And I really like the way you discussed it here. 😀

  4. Ashley F

    I’m glad you enjoyed it. I agree about kinda getting the characters confused at first. It took some getting used to for sure. I also loved the Spanish setting, it’s not a common setting in Literature and I enjoyed it. The rest of the series is worth reading for sure. I’m looking forward to reading Attachments!

      • Ashley F

        Loved it. I always pay attention when authors describe a city or the architecture and reading that I was like….must….google…..because I couldn’t automatically picture it in my head like when things are set in London or New York or Paris.

  5. Sarah Says Read

    So I was looking forward to re-reading this with ya’ll, and then I forgot and packed away my copy for moving 🙁 And the library copy wasn’t available. Reading your questions, I’m realizing just how badly I need to re-read it. I remember liking it a lot, but I don’t remember much except the general outline. Bad, Sarah.

    I’m so excited for Attachments though! I’ve been wanting to re-read that too, and my books will probably be unpacked mere days after moving. Hooray!

    • Words for Worms

      Yay! I can’t wait to talk about Attachments. I haven’t read it yet. I probably shouldn’t keep choosing my book club books without having read them, but whatever. I’m adventurous!

  6. Ashley Z

    Hahaha! I just finished Attachments! I loved it!I also wasnt aware Shadow of the Wind qas a series! Ill have to read the rest! Ok onto discussion:
    1- I really enjoyed following the puzzle pieces. It really made you think and pay attention. I liked that Julian and Daniels stories interwined the way they did. It was better to learn their similarities because I felt it made me connect with them more. Even though Julian turned a bit nutty, I still had some compassion for him.
    2- no, I didn’t figure that one out. I had no idea who Coubert was!
    3- ah, incest. I was a little shocked that Julian and Penelope were related. But looking back, the clues were all there!
    4-I’m not great with dream interpretations either. I didn’t really read too much into this. Although I do agree Jacintas dreams were kinda freaky.
    5- all these poor guys grew up in messed up households. I can see where they would both turn out a little on the nutty side!
    6- I enjoyed this book. I liked the twists and turns. I loved Daniel and his determination. I liked Julian (pre fire) and his likability. I feel like everyone in this book had something about them that made you feel some sort of connection.
    Great selection. I look forward to discussing Attachments!

    • Words for Worms

      Ashley, you always leave such awesome Fellowship commentary! I love characters with dimension and this book was full of them. Even Fumero had a backstory that explained his crazy! (And I’m super excited for Attachments!)

  7. Wayne

    This sounds interesting. I will probably get to it eventually. Anything psychoanalytic appeals to me. Have you ever read *The White Hotel*? It is full of erotic imagery and near-incoherent description. Following this is a prose version of the story that we learn is written by a young woman who is a semi-successful opera singer who comes to Sigmund Freud for analysis. But it is ultimately about a much deeper tragedy.

  8. Laura

    You pick such good books for the Fellowship! I want to read all of them! Unfortunately, I suck and haven’t had any time for books that aren’t from the library and due back in 3 short weeks. But Attachments is on hold and as long as it arrives in time, I’ll have to read it before the next discussion. Looking forward to being able to participate 🙂

  9. liese0409

    I´d love to take part in you book club, but i missed the last two books. when i saw, what you are reading it was too late. Your next book isn`t available in germany and i don´t have the concentration to read a whole book in englisch. Maybe next time. I love the idea!

      • liese0409

        Thats the problem when you take new books. but you dont need to do that. Just pick a book and i take part, if i can. But thanks for the consideration.

  10. Dwti

    I finished this novel after a YEARS of battling against it (it just looked so daunting!) I finished it a few weeks back and am NEVER going to forget it, it was amazing. I think sometimes it was hard to imagine how the world that Carax lived in could intertwine and still make sense with Daniel’s world- that was the only worry I had, especially since it was the book I kept returning to read chapter by chapter over a period of, like, 7 years. But this was just a stunning book, I felt like I was breathing the Spanish air whenever I opened it! I never wanted it to end. And I actually found out a few days after finishing it that there was a sequel, but it doesn’t focus on Daniel and so I don’t think that I would like it as much. I’m afraid to read it incase it ruins the first books perfection :/

  11. Student's Shadow

    It was also a great introduction to the author, Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I don’t consider him a complex writer in the sense that his books are intimidating reads. He’s an author that demands your full attention. I should have read the novel and paid more attention to it, because it was only when I was nearing its end that I understood how beautiful and amazing it was. As soon as you pick it up it shouldn’t be put down or pushed aside! 😛 This book reminded me a lot of dating (as strange as it sounds!) Someone might not look like your cup of tea at first but you have no idea how they’re going to affect your life. And this book certainly leaves a lifelong impression! 😛

  12. Tiffany

    This book left me thinking “Oh holy hell I wish I could write like that!” Disregarding the storyline for a minute, Zafon’s writing is beautiful. He clearly has an excellent gift.

    As far as the story, I was hooked once Fermin entered the picture. I felt a strong connection to him and was eager to follow his storyline. Actually, I felt very connected to all of the characters, Fermin was just my favorite.

    I totally agree with you about Fumero. His mother did a number on him and clearly had some sort of mental issue herself. Julina only turned out mostly normal (despite his abusive “father”) until he discovered the whole truth. Personally if someone had come to me and said, “Hey you know that person you’re in love with? Yeah it’s your sibling.”, I would have lost it. And frankly that’s basically what happened to Julian. Poor guy!

    I want to warn you, The Angel’s Game is actually a prequel and…well…. not nearly as good. I haven’t read the third one yet. I am reluctant.

    Glad you enjoyed The Shadow of The Wind though!

    • Words for Worms

      FERMIN! I love Fermin! I’m bummed to hear the prequel isn’t that great. If you read the third and love it, let me know. I’m willing to brave the sophomore jinx for the sake of a good series.

  13. Cindy W

    I had a hard time getting into this book too. Once, I did, I was hooked, but I did have to stop reading some nights when I got too tired to keep up with everyone.

    1 – I enjoyed the similarities between the two stories, but I was very much hoping that Daniel’s story would end up better than Julian’s. For a while there, it looked like it wouldn’t.

    2 – I did guess Lain Coubert’s identity before it was revealed, but probably only by a few pages. When I realized that it was Fumero that had been calling Nuria for Julian’s address and not Jorge, that made me question my assumption that Jorge was Lain.

    3 – The incest did surprise me, although it shouldn’t have considering all the sleeping around Aldaya did. I just thought he was super protective of his daughter.

    5 – I think you’re right that Fumero inherited mental illness from his mother. And maybe her wanting to be a part of the better class is what led to him doing whatever he had to do in order to have power over others. Julian had a terrible childhood too, but his mother wasn’t as crazy, so perhaps that helped him turn out better. Plus, even though he and Fumero shared the same friends, I think that they were much more Julian’s friends who tolerated Fumero. I believe in the power of good friends being able to help you be a better person.

    6 – I did like this book! I loved Fermin so much, I was happy to see that he survived, married, and had kids. I also really want to visit the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. I was so glad when Fumero finally met his end. I was kind of expecting Palacios to shoot Fumero when he burst into the house.

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