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Wine & Book Group Pick for January '06

abstract:Experience España this month as BookBuffet and our partners at Women & Wine have selected the runaway European bestselling novel by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind Penguin (Non-Classics) for the January 'book and wine club' with three delicious wines at various price points, carefully researched and selected for you and your group. Read, taste, discuss and enjoy! January is a good month to join our group, order the book, and pick up some fabulous deals on wine (by the bottle or case) guaranteed to transport you on mental and sensual journey.  


January 09, 2006
It is hard to confine Zafon's novel into just one category; it is a seductive and complex story that will remind you of many pieces of literature and authors you have read. It is a novel within a novel, a book within a book; a love story, a historical fiction, a thrilling mystery, and at times farce.

Setin the 1950s in Barcelona, the birthplace and long-standing home of the author. Zafon takes care to make the city itself come alive to the reader as a character. Anyone who has traveled there will recall the beautiful beaches, the busy marketway Las Ramblas, the art of Miro, and the architecture of Gaudi.

The story begins with an 11-year-old boy named Daniel Sempere, the son of a widowed bookstore owner, who discovers a rare novel by an obscure author: The Shadow of the Wind, by Julián Carax. Entranced by the book, he is drawn into a mystery when he hears rumors of a horribly disfigured man who has been burning every copy of this book he can find. Thus begins Daniel's attempt to uncover the enigma and our hook into this superbly entertaining story.  Excerpt—

"I was raised among books," writes Daniel Sempere, "making invisible friends in pages that seemed cast from dust and whose smell I carry on my hands to this day." Young Daniel's father runs a used bookstore in Barcelona; his mother died when he was 4, and he misses her desperately. One afternoon in 1945 the older Sempere informs his not quite 11-year-old son that he is taking him to The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. "You mustn't tell anyone what you're about to see today." They wander through narrow winding streets, then finally stop before "a large door of carved wood, blackened by time and humidity. Before us loomed what to my eyes seemed the carcass of a palace, a place of echoes and shadows." Inside "a labyrinth of passageways and crammed bookshelves rose from base to pinnacle like a beehive woven with tunnels, steps, platforms, and bridges that presaged an immense library of seemingly impossible geometry." Daniel's father tells him that "according to tradition, the first time someone visits this place, he must choose a book, whichever he wants, and adopt it, making sure that it will never disappear, that it will always stay alive." Daniel chooses -- or perhaps is chosen by -- The Shadow of the Wind, by Julian Carax.

If you love A.S. Byatt's Possession, García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, the short stories of Borges, Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, Arturo Pérez-Reverte's The Club Dumas or Paul Auster's New York trilogy, then you will love The Shadow of the Wind

The Shadow of the Wind was translated into English by Lucia Graves; she was raised on the island of Majorca in postwar Spain. She has published Spanish-language editions of the works of her father, the poet Robert Graves, and books by Katherine Mansfield and Anaïs Nin.


About The Author

Spanish novelist and screenwriter Carlos Ruiz Zafón was born in Barcelona in 1965 where he lived before traveling to Los Angeles in 1994 to make his home. He wrote four children's books before embarking on the same number of adult novels with The Shadow of the Wind being the first. It has spent more than a year on the Spanish bestseller list, much of it at number one, and has sold in more than twenty countries. Carlos uses his screenwriter's background to instill various narrative techniques and embue a cinemographic feel to his novels borrowing from the avant-garde movement all the way to the silver-screen classics. He admires nineteenth-century classic authors:

"I drew on the Dickensian model of creating a complex world populated by intriguing places, peculiar creatures, and infinite details at work. A good novel begins with a universe that should feel to the reader as real and fascinating, if not more so, than the one he inhabited before he picked up the book. This is a novel for those who love to lose themselves in that kind of universe."

Listen to this KCRW-Bookworm interview with Michael Silverblatt and the author.

Check-out the Reading Group Guide Questions.


Wine Selections

There are many old and excellent wine growing regions in Spain, and the all-female team of experts at Women & Wine -- sommeliers, wine-makers and food people -- take great care in finding wines with defining characteristics, a history of the vintner, or the style of the winemaker to match qualities in the book, or the author's style and intent. Old worldly, rich and robust with a touch of mystery is needed here.

Check the W&W website over the course of this week to see what update is in store this month. You can also take a look at the past wines chosen for previous books in our series. Four times a year, a celebrity chef designs recipes to match our book and wine club, and demonstrates them on network television from the west coast food capital, San Francisco. Not bad!!


Not a Member?

Join the Wine and Book Club and see all the wines, all the books, all the research. Click on Register, select Invited to Join an Existing group, type "wineandbook" in the group name box and the rest of your details -- and you're in!

  • Dec 2005 Pride and Prejudice: delightful young white clarets
  • Nov 2005 Breakfast at Tiffany's: champagne, of course!
  • Oct 2005 A Rare and Curious Gift: aged Tuscan reds



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