The Shadow of the Wind (Carlos Ruiz Zafon)

Normally, the hallways of the Republican Retirement Ranch and Conservative Condominium Complex are quiet, reserved places. Nearly tasteful patriotic displays decorate the mini-alcoves near each door; thick carpeting deadens sound; and you are made to whisper as in a library or museum.

So you can imagine my surprise when I entered the terrace level and heard shouting punctuated by door pounding. And you can understand my dismay when I discovered that the shouting was emanating from my imaginary Great Uncle. His sister, my Great Aunt (on my sister's side), looked on with alternating expressions of concern and glee.

"Come on out of there ya renegade!" Great Uncle Leadbelly told the door.

"Not until you calm down," responded the door.

"I'm VERY CALM!" shouted Great Uncle. Great Aunt Iva giggled. Great Uncle turned on her and exclaimed, "I am too!"

Great Aunt Iva burst right out with laughter. Leadbelly stomped back to his condo. As we followed, I tried to get Great Aunt Iva to explain. She handed me a book.

"He found The Shadow of the Wind in Herbie's living room," she said.

"I loved that book," I said. Great Uncle Leadbelly grumbled and slammed his door. Great Aunt Iva shrugged and opened it. "I really liked the storytelling, and, of course, any story that takes seriously the real impact of books on lives."

"Personally," Great Aunt said while she poured herself a spot of tea, "I found the women in that book rather like cardboard cut-outs."

"It's hard to argue with that," I said. "Great Uncle, I would have thought you'd like the whole detective thing."

"He's protecting me," Great Aunt Iva giggled again. Leadbelly threw a pillow at her.

"In two different instances," he grumbled, "a character in that book gets involved with his friend's sister."

"And you wanted to protect Great Aunt Iva from that?" I asked. Leadbelly shot me a look.

"Of course not," he said. "but I like my friend. I don't want her turning him against me."

0 thoughtful messages from friendly readers: