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The staging of this book is great. The plot is interesting and the characters all have depth...but if you skip a day or two while you are listening to the book, you may have trouble keeping things straight. For most of the novel, the story is actually two similar stories, each with its own set of cooresponding characters. What can make the audio version especially difficult to follow is the sheer number of characters, all with Latin names. This is further complicated by the fact that many minor characters are also addressed by name and for the non-Spanish readers, the street names and places can also sound like names adding to your distraction. Here is an example, Calle Tallers, Nuria Monfort, Lain Coubert, Jorge Aldaya, Fumero, Don Fredico, Fermin, Miquel Moliner, Mr Cabestany and Dr. Anacleto.. The first is a street, the next group major characters we need to remember and the last is a publisher and a then a doctor of less importance. All appear within a few pages of each other and represent less than half the characters you will have to keep straight in your head. In the book it is fairly easy to keep all the plotlines and people organized. When you only have the audio version to rely on you may not keep enough detail in memory to fully enjoy all the nuances. I finally bought a copy of the book so I could go back over the parts I was fuzzy on. I enjoyed the audio much more with the book handy.
97 of 99 people found this review helpful
I loved this book, and would have unreservedly given it five stars both for the writing and for the narration, except for the publisher's poor choice to include the author's badly written, ham-handed piano accompaniment at the beginning of each section and during the moments of greatest emotional and descriptive impact.
I understand that Carlos Ruiz Zafon wrote the music himself, and that indicates to me that it must have been included as a favor to him, but that decision does no favors for the book. At the moment when I was most engrossed in the story, the music would fade in and completely ruin my concentration and enjoyment of the story. It's poorly and tritely composed in the fashion of the worst kind of high-end department store parlor accompaniment, and completely detracts from the feeling and quality of the book.
If you can manage to ignore the music, the story is wonderful, with amazing character depth and a wonderfully circuitous plot, and Jonathan Davis's narration is beautiful, utilizing the characteristic Castilian lisp for the places and names and giving wonderful voice to the many characters.
120 of 123 people found this review helpful