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The Road to Wellville
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The Road to Wellville

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  4,439 ratings  ·  314 reviews
The acclaimed author of World's End and East Is East explores a uniquely American obsession in his newest and best novel yet. Centering on John Harvey Kellogg and his Battle Creek Spa, this novel is rich with Dickensian characters and fascinating historical detail.
Hardcover, 476 pages
Published May 1st 1993 by Viking Books (first published 1993)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Donna  Napier
TC Boyle is one of my favorite authors because I simply fall in love with his sentences. The man writes such incredible sentences! The Road to Wellville is a captivating story, too, so between the brilliant sentence structure and the fascinating story line, I was spellbound until the ending. Unfortunately, like other TC Boyle novels I've read, the ending missed the mark for me. It seems that Boyle paints himself into a corner and then just decides that the only way out is to walk back across the ...more
Rob
I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before, but I'd be hard-pressed to name another author who so effectively combines humor with dread. In every book by T.C. Boyle – this one included – I cringe as I read because I know some horrible reckoning will befall most of the main characters, but the journey to that reckoning is so frequently punctuated with humor and absurdity that I feel terrible enjoying these characters' downfalls so damn much.

Like so many of Boyle's other books, The Road to Wellvil
...more
Aurora
This is one of those hard to rate books. It's funny and the subject and time period are surprising and compelling to me. But after a certain point, the story just stops moving forward. To stereotype wildly, this seems to happen to me often with modern fiction- I like the characters and the story, but somewhere in the middle things just start to amble, and the thing ends up being 400 pages for no good reason.

Historical fiction is so weird, anyway. Somewhere in the middle of this, I thought "why
...more
Chance Lee
The Road to Wellville is an at-times fascinating, at-times dull historical fiction about John Harvey Kellogg and his cult-like following of health nuts at the turn of the century. The fascinating parts are really fascinating and the dull parts are, thankfully, not that dull, thanks to T.C. Boyle's expertise with the English language. If thinks had moved along at a brisker pace, it would have held my attention better.

This is billed as a comic novel, but maybe the long passages made me too drowsy
...more
JTT
Done to a turn, like a Porterhouse steak, grilled to a perfect medium rare. Or should I say: "like a Protose Pattie perfectly congealed." This is an excellent, well-written, funny novel about Kellogg and Battle Creek in its heyday. An incredible amount of research must have been undertaken in order to craft such a classic piece of American fiction. I don't know how TC Boyle does it. Like his book on the Kinseys, he writes with so much confidence and factual detail you'd think he'd lived in these ...more
David DeValera
The Road to Wellville is a story of people in search of Organic Grace. Dr. Kellogg's followers believe they suffer from the visceral accumulation of toxic sludge brought on by years of improper diet. Since the rigors of eating were never mastered better than by the great Cleansed Colon himself, Dr. Kellogg, they follow his every command. They scour their colons, blast out their bowels, purge their way to purity--yet, despite the daily intrusions to their lower orifices', they still end up diggin ...more
Pete
3.5 stars, really, but goodreads' war on subtlety continues. as a stylistic exercise this is a triumph. as an actual novel, something south of there, although not like antarctica south. very much in the vein of new yorker humor articles -- where my response is "ah, i see this person is making a joke" as opposed to actually laughing or feeling amused. there were a few exceptions: the repetition of "womb manipulation" toward the end gets pretty funny. but a lot of the other stuff really felt formu ...more
Lynn G.
This book is probably a 3.5* rather than a three. An interesting, fictional look at the empire that J.H. Kellogg built around "physiologic" living and an amazing number of enemas; yes, enemas. His highly regarded Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, or "San" as it was popularly called, hosted thousands of "patients" over the years. All of them wealthy, many famous, and all apparently suffering from such complaints as autointoxication, neurasthenia, and, worst of all, the eating of meat. Kellogg ...more
Ian Mapp
You have to admire TC Boyle, this is the forth book (after Drop City, Tortilla Curtain and Inner Circle) of his that i have read and they are all different, with different themes and time frames.

This is comedy gold and tells the story of the Kellog family, superbly played by Anthony Hopkins in the film adaptaion.

He runs a sanitarioum in 19th Century smallsville america with some bizarre treatments - mostly based around the bowell and the avoidance of meat, coffee and drink.

Three seperate strorie
...more
Rauf
Jan 31, 2010 Rauf rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who think organic foods are so edgy
Shelves: 2010-list, fiction, 3-5
1907.
Battle Creek, Michigan.

The American bourgeois were lining up to get top treatments for their sick, frail bodies at the Sanatorium. Most of them suffered the same ailment: their colons were shot to hell. The man in charge (and who could save them) was Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. Surgeon, inventor, author, cap'n of industry. His methods were simple but very challenging.
Stop eating meat, stop drinking, stop smoking. Don't worry. The menu in the San living room would make you want to forget those
...more
Danielle Paglia
Boyle has a unique flavor to his writing that I really enjoyed and I will probably give him one more try for that reason alone because this story really did nothing for me. There was a cast of eccentric characters, but I found myself seriously disliking every single one of them. The only one I was remotely routing for was Charlie, the hustler who gets hustled. Other than that, I pretty much detested everyone else and didn't really care one way or the other what happened to them in the end.

I did
...more
Liz
You expect a certain amount of snarkiness from Boyle, and Wellville doesn't dissapoint, but I found no glee in it, as I did in Drop City, or Budding Prospects, or even Water Music. I kept thinking what a marvelous writer he is, yet how unfortunate his choice of stories and characters are. I get it that Kellog's sanitarium and its regimens were for the turn of the century's health nuts, and that many of its practices were misguided and downright dangerous in some cases. I get that there were huck ...more
Marie Kelleher
You know, I've given T.C. Boyle a couple of tries now. In both cases (the other was Drop City, which I liked slightly better), I found myself vaguely interested and vaguely irritated, in equal measure. In both cases, he gives us a utopian experiment pulled down by the most banal of human flaws (which, I suppose, is the real tragedy: at our worst, we're not so much "evil" or even "bad" as we are distressingly petty and self-involved). In each, he draws his characters with some depth, but you can' ...more
Kati
I started this book a couple of weekends ago for a "quick weekend read." Not only did it take longer than I expected but I often had a hard time devoting myself to the book because none of the characters were likeable. Okay, one character. I also experienced this while reading The Women. I can appreciate the fact that most humans have an ugliness in them but when the dark parts of people take over the story, I just find it difficult to read. Having said that, I obviously chose to finish. It was ...more
Jess Faraday
As always--unforgettable characters, whizz-bang storytelling, and gorgeous, lush prose. Also? Makes today's dietary faddists look downright sane by comparison =)
Tania
It started great, wonderful premise and colourful writing. But then it just went on and on without actually going anywhere. (Needed a bit of roughage to move things through. Or at least a good edit to cut to the chase.) I persevered but by midway it set me on the road to Snoozeville. Finally gave up and didn't finish. I'd recommend Boyle's terrific Talk Talk instead, or the Inner Circle.

I haven't seen the movie, would be interested to see how/if the film snapped it into shape.
Lizzy
TC Boyle is Brilliant as always. What I found most fascinating about this novel is it examined the beginnings of the health food movement... a crazy doctor semonizing on a specific diet and way of life and the people who follow him like sheep. It made me think about today's health craze...the things that I believe to be very healthy but in 100 years may be considered misinformed. What also interested me were the things Dr. Kellogg said were healthy, and thinking to today, what aspects of a healt ...more
David
I like Boyle's writing, perhaps even more in this one than others, but like some of his other historical based works, it seemed like most of the action was a foregone conclusion from the beginning. It was interesting and rich in detail, but it could have been a fourth the length and only missed out on the amount of detail the reader got to see. The same things would have happened to the characters, the same things that were expected from the beginning. I suppose it was more to sketch out Kellogg ...more
Todd Stockslager
Regardless of how good this book is, my review of it will be forever tainted by the events surrounding my reading of it: I started reading the book just before first visiting my parents to help with my ailing mother, and finished it the day of her funeral just three weeks later. Her death came more quickly than we expected; the end of this book took came more slowly than I expected.

Not that it was a bad book. In fact, it suggests that the real history of Kellog, the Battle Creek sanitorium movem
...more
Will
"As he was crossing Champion, the air seemed suddenly to congeal and a single electrifying odor rose up out of nowhere to drive all else before it and stop him dead in his tracks. Apprehension was instantaneous: this was the natural pure unapologetic aroma of meat sizzling in the pan - a hamburger, to be specific - and it was emanating from the restaurant on the corner. The Red Onion, read the sign out front, and Will recognized the place as the iniquitous den in which the San's gizzardites and ...more
Cdrueallen
One of my least favorite T.C. Boyle novels, in which the milquetoast hero cures his ulcer and redeems his manhood by catching his wife having her womb manipulated in broad pastoral daylight by a doctor of movement therapy while a prominent advocate of vegetarianism looks on, masturbating. The neanderthal is unleashed in our hero, who grabs a stick shaped like a baseball bat from the leafy ground and proceeds to beat both his rivals bloody. Once he manages, brandishing said stick, to bring fear t ...more
Barbara
This is a 4.5 book for sure. T.C. Boyle can write exceptionally well and his characters are incredible. I am fascinated with the Kellogg sanitarium and wonder just how much of this is based on truths. Time to research.
rachel
Truly, I didn't think it was possible that a book would ever have too much scatological humor for me to enjoy. But I just couldn't get into my first TC Boyle read. Maybe if I'd been emotionally engaged in either loving or hating the characters getting enemas? But nothing compelled me to read past page 100. And my friends, there are too many books and too little time to spend reading something that doesn't move you in one way or another.
Maneesh
I've enjoyed a couple of Mr. Boyle's previous novels, particularly "The Tortilla Curtain," so I thought I'd give this one a shot. Knowing that this one was adapted into a film, and seeing a reasonable rating on Goodreads (3.6), I expected a bitingly humorous but light-hearted romp with an historical fiction bent.

Instead, what I got was a plodding, rambling, mish-mash of a book that I had to force myself to get through. The attempts at farce were clumsy at best, and took away from any kind of hi
...more
Jen
The librarian recommended this book, as he likes the author. I did enjoy the book. A lot of the story was based on loose facts. It is fun to see how people would go to extremes to be healthy back in the days before liposuction, botox and plastic surgery. It was an interesting read and I hear there is a movie based off of this book, which I am looking forward to seeing.
Stephan
One of the best comic novels of the late 20th century. The language is beautiful and precise, the characterizations rich and varied, the story a wild ride into the American stomach.
Kristina
You know, I don't have a lot to say about it, outside of "I enjoyed it". But it does have me thinking about some stuff (vague as hell), and I'm not really sure if I'm over-thinking the whole shebang.

I couldn't describe the book as overly hilarious, because who knows what we'll find out about what we've been doing to our bodies all these years. And yet...it was an enjoyable, ridiculous, literary journey.

On the other hand, as one reviewer stated, "Why am I reading this fictionalized account of thi
...more
Johanna Moran
I read this years ago and loved it. But then I love Boyle's dark sardonic style. I'll have to read it again and give it a proper review.
Elise
Oh T.C. Boyle, I love you. This is one of his earlier novels, and it does not disappoint. A really fun look into the early 20th century of world of breakfast food tycoon - John Harvey Kellog. A satirical look at people's obsession with 'healthy' eating and quack medical procedures all in the name of living a healthy and pure life. While the methods in the book may seem ridiculous to us now, the connection to the present day health-food/living craze cannot be missed. This book oozes with memorabl ...more
Denise
Boyle tells the story of Dr. Kellogg and the Battle Creek Sanitarium. Interesting parts were how timely many of the food and medical ideas are for today - human nature doesn't change, just gets repackaged.

But the book was way too long! Boring, didn't care for characters, only interesting part was the historical aspects. I am interested in finding out how much of the book is historically accurate and seeing what can be visited in Battle Creek. Also seemed like Boyle was trying to show off his vo
...more
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T. Coraghessan Boyle (also known as T.C. Boyle, born Thomas John Boyle on December 2, 1948) is a U.S. novelist and short story writer. Since the late 1970s, he has published eleven novels and more than 60 short stories. He won the PEN/Faulkner award in 1988 for his third novel, World's End, which recounts 300 years in upstate New York. He is married with three children. Boyle has been a Distinguis ...more
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