After rereading The Shadow of the Wind (previously mentioned here and here), I’m astonished and breathless at the conclusion. The first and second time through I didn’t pay nearly close enough attention to the closing pages and how they deftly finish the circle while simultaneously pointing to the future.
I can’t believe I missed them.
I also hadn’t realized just how effectively the story’s stories-within-a-story devices work because on earlier reads I think I got too caught up the plot to appreciate what was happening. Now I have enough perspective and restraint to appreciate how Daniel, the protagonist, functions as a detective in a way that moves him from passive boy to active adult. The stories he gets others to tell him are incomplete, and part of what’s amazing about the novel is its transition from story to story and place to place.
In the last two years I’ve begun watching for those transitions with much greater (and professional) care: weaker novels make them stand out, while stronger ones make you forget they exist because each move from chapter to chapter and section to section feels completely natural. The Shadow of the Wind is certainly among the latter. By the time Nuria Monfort’s story appears in full, I was aching to know it, yet savoring its telling. I can point to one or two technical weaknesses in the story—how come it sounds like the rest of the narration, denying her a unique voice?—I don’t care. The novel is too strong for minor points like that to hold it up.