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Palace Council

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  1,168 Ratings  ·  216 Reviews
@In the summer of 1952, twenty prominent men gather at a secret meeting on Martha's Vineyard and devise a plot to manipulate the President of the United States. Soon after, the body of one of these men is found by Eddie Wesley, Harlem's rising literary star. When Eddie's younger sister mysteriously disappears, Eddie and the woman he loves, Aurelia Treene, are pulled into w ...more
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Published July 8th 2008 by Books on Tape (first published January 1st 2008)
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Nov 06, 2010 Lobstergirl rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: Dumpster
Shelves: got-rid-of, fiction
I want to weep with disgust that a book can be so banal, and so long. Reading it was mentally exhausting, and emotionally distressing, because it was so dull, and yet so complicated. It's a murder mystery, a political thriller, a missing persons quest, ranging from 1952 to 1975, among Harlem's black upper class. It has Dan Brown-like elements of conspiracy; riddles are solved with the help of passages from Paradise Lost and Lady Chatterley's Lover. The most annoying thing is Carter's insistence ...more
Jul 14, 2008 Nicky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a great summer read - a political thriller chock full of conspiracy theories and shady dealings, but told from the perspective of Harlem's upper crust in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. While I consider myself fairly well educated, being white and a native Iowan did not provide me with the best insight into African-American life during the mid-1900s. The world Carter describes is fascinating, and the characters are well-developed and intricate. So while he may be covering some old historical groun ...more
Beth Allen
Sep 17, 2008 Beth Allen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Beth by: NPR
This is a very good book, in many ways a great one.

For me, it was almost too intricate, too finely plotted, for this feeble brain to keep up with! I've spent much of the last week finishing Palace Council as I nurse a bad back, and perhaps my brain is wilted a bit as well.

Palace Council is a long book (over 500 pages). The author's note at the end is also worth reading, because Carter explains little changes he made to history, in order to fit in with Eddie Wesley's journey.

The real heroes of th
Before I rip on this book, I want to state clearly that I liked it pretty well and I like Stephen Carter's voice.

This book could use a very efficient editor. The plot wanders, and there are too many twists. It makes me think of being a kid sitting in church during the sermon, and the preacher would use his "wrapping it up" cadence, and then plunge right back in and keep going. Palace Council had too many non-climaxes. Also, too many characters. Ultimately, it was confusing, which can easily sli
Bookmarks Magazine

Oh critics, how ye disagree! Many found Palace Council overly long and complained that the "thriller" parts came and went at random. It's also a bad sign in a genre that depends on flash/bang finales if the ending is considered weak. On a separate note, Edward and Aurelia witness more historical events than Forrest Gump

Apr 14, 2013 Bill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
A Slow Ramble Through The Sixties, (2012)

Carter, Stephen L. (2008). Palace Council. New York: Vintage.

The characters are interesting and well-rounded in this saga of a prominent black community in Harlem, from the mid-1950’s to the mid-1970’s. Eddie Wesley is a black (“Negro”) writer who achieves sudden early fame and prosperity, which admits him into the upper echelons of rich black society. He loves Aurelia, but she marries someone else for money and status. Her relationship with Eddie neverth
If you cannot get into the characters within the first few pages, you may not enjoy this as the plot is not as engaging as it may seem, and the focuse of the book is to see how the characters interact/develop.

Other reviews here at the site are quite accurate.
Stephen L. Carter is an excellent author his characters are well drawn, real and easy to become interested in. Also, the subject matter of the small, but often influential African American upper class of the 50s'-60's is interesting and cl
Feb 05, 2012 April rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once again, the brillian Stephen Carter writes a hard, but rewarding novel in which you learn about upper class African American life as much as you are entertained by the thriller. The plot is so complicated that I won't attempt to explain it, except to say that terrorism, journalism, writing, solidarity, and paranoia play large parts, as does love of one's family, romantic love, and love of/obsession with one's muse. It's an exciting book, with lots going on, and thus not an easy read, but I f ...more
Jan 01, 2009 Stefanie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
one word:

There are so many characters and the novel spans two decades. I found it really hard to follow and even at the end I wasn't exactly sure what had happened throughout the story. Also confusing was the fact that some of the "characters" are actual historical figures - Kennedy, Nixon, Langston Hughes, etc.

It was still ok, and interesting if you enjoy Carter's first two stories - some of the characters in his earlier novels are "born" during this one. I loved his first two novels b
Tirza Sanders
I really like how smart Stephen Carter's books are. He combines mystery with history and explores upper class African American communities that are not widely written about. That said, I found this book a bit slow. It has such a large scope, spans several decades, and has many characters. I had a difficult time getting into the book and caring what happened to the characters. I have enjoyed other Carter books and really wanted to like it but I found it a challenge to finish.
This is definitely an entertaining read--it kept me up an hour later than I intended at the close--but I never could suspend my disbelief fully. The protagonist has a little bit of a Forrest Gump tendency to land right in the midst of major historical events which felt contrived. And I don't know if Carter is just a lot smarter than me, but I tend to leave his mysteries going. "Wait. What just happened?" I'm never entirely clear about whodunit.
Mar 19, 2009 Vivian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another great book from one of my favorite authors. Terrific legal fiction set between 1954 and 1974. Intelligently written, it is full of historical figures, conspiracy theories and intrigue. It has plenty of twists and turns. Eddie Wesley and Aurelia Treene are complex, fully developed characters.

This is definitely a page turner, but "The Emperor of Ocean Park" is still my favorite. Make no mistake though, this is no light read. I highly recommend.

Dec 29, 2013 Kimberly rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't get this book over with fast enough. There was waaaayyyy too much going on with this story. Mainly there were too many coincidences which make for a bad mystery and the use of real life historical people as characters wasn't to my liking. Seriously, making the main characters friends with Nixon just wasn't believable. I did however like that the author used some of the same characters from his previous books, and that his characters hail from the middle class.
Carol Hunter
Jul 18, 2008 Carol Hunter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Carter is a very literary "legal thriller" author whose books are dense reads about the African-American upper class. This new addition continues the twists and turns of his suspenseful novels. I really enjoyed how he includes famous people such as Nixon and Langston Hughes as some of his characters in this interesting read which spans the years of 1952-1974.
Cynthia Marie
Jul 26, 2014 Cynthia Marie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Delightful to read for the second time. A hugely entertaining novel. I love how the social and intellectual hierarchies of Harlem are expertly represented in this novel. An interesting political caper with historical figures engaged with his fictional characters makes for a creative, engaging, at times implausible, narrative.
Stephen Burns
Carter has a peculiar style, in that he tells more than he shows, but he's a good storyteller. Palace Council isn't his best work, but it is interesting. Unfortunately, the last audio disk from the library didn't work. I have the book on order from the library, so no, I don't know how it ends yet.
Aug 02, 2011 Peggy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Emperor of Ocean Park was the best of the three books in this "series." The storyline got a little farfetched and had a less than satisfying ending, but the obvious and not always flattering allusions to more recent political leaders was worth a chuckle.
Feb 23, 2015 Tammy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not for the mentally lazy. The reader will work on every page to keep up or be lost forever in the twists and turns of this one. That said, I accepted the challenge and emerged victorious and thoroughly entertained.
Like others who have read this, I, too, felt this was in need of some serious editing. However, this is still an engrossing book, although I didn't like it as much as New England White. I did lose interest in the characters a bit by the end, and found the ending less than satisfying.
Roger Mckenzie
Feb 22, 2015 Roger Mckenzie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A really well written book but at times deeply frustrating and difficult to follow. It is also overly long. My rating for this book is in reality more a 2.5 than a 3.
Elizabeth Williams
A very unusual book - difficult to classify it but I have really enjoyed reading it.
Too verbose. Not the entertainment I was looking for. Gave up on it after 150 pages
Charles Matthews
Advice to novelists: Never make the protagonist of your novel a novelist, unless you can be sure that the reader would rather be reading your novel than the ones your character has written.

The protagonist of Stephen L. Carter's third novel, Palace Council, is a novelist who by the end of the story has won at least two National Book Awards and is one of the most famous writers in America. Carter is pretty famous himself. He's the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale and the author of
Jeffrey Brown
Not a good as other Carter's, but enjoyable none the less.
Jul 06, 2008 Heather rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one - read a better book on the African American topic
Recommended to Heather by: People
Shelves: adult
This book was kind of a mess. I've had it on my to-read list for a long time b/c it sounded like a good mystery, and the flap said that the plot started on Martha's Vineyard, so I brought it on my trip there. I read the first 200 pages or so at the beginning of the trip, and then set it aside for the rest of the trip b/c it felt tedious and I just wasn't enjoying it. I wanted, especially on vacation, to read something I actually enjoyed! After I finished another book (the Jodi Picoult one - far ...more
Jul 02, 2012 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
May 1954. Eddie Wesley, a young writer, stumbles over a corpse after leaving a party in Harlem. It turns out the body is that of Wall Street corporate lawyer Philmont Castle, very recently deceased and not of natural or accidental causes. There are other startling discoveries, including that of an inverted cross.
Eddie doesn't get really involved, though, until his younger sister mysteriously vanishes and he suspects a link between the lawyer's death and his sister's disappearance. He spends most
Phyllis Sommers
Feb 13, 2013 Phyllis Sommers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As is the case with the other novels I've read by this author, the greatest value of Carter's stories is the historical fiction they impart. "Palace Council" traces the rise of the African American community from the 1950s through the mid-1970s, and does so as it focuses on the rise of "Negro" professor and renowned author, Edward 'Eddie' Wesley and his family, lovers and friends. Eddie's life is shaped early on, when his one true love, Aurelia Treene, marries Kevin Garland, an up and coming pol ...more
Jun 17, 2014 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Palace Council is a big, sprawling, character driven novel. At its center is a vast conspiracy reaching into the Oval Office; threatening the social and political fabric of the country. The story spans over twenty years, from the early 1950’s to the mid ‘70’s. Our protagonist, writer Eddie Wesley, literally stumbles into this labyrinth of intrigue after discovering a dead body outside of a Harlem mansion.

Thus begins our story and Eddie’s two decade long quest, first bouncing between DC and NYC a
Feb 08, 2012 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
In the last of Carter's "Elm Harbor" series, he surely saved the best for last. Not as 'thick' as the other two books, Carter still takes us on a great ride to discover murderers, kidnappers, and the place the 'darker nation' (his word, not mine) has in the US political scene from the 1950s to mid-70s. From the inauguration of Eisenhowser in '53 through to the shameful departure of Nixon in '74, Carter weaves a tale a generation in the making to put some of the key pieces together, as they relat ...more
May 29, 2009 Anne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stephen L. Carter is a Yale law professor and the author of two other novels , The Emperor of Ocean Park and New England White. He writes political thrillers featuring characters of the African-American elite. Palace Council begins in Harlem in 1952. Eddie Westley, a controversial but rising star of a writer, stumbles upon the dead body of a prominent lawyer, Philmont Castle. Hoping to stay out of a potential scandal, Westley suddenly finds himself thrust into a world of secret societies and pol ...more
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Stephen L. Carter is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale where he has taught since 1982. He has published seven critically acclaimed nonfiction books on topics ranging from affirmative action to religion and politics. His first novel, The Emperor of Ocean Park (2002), was an immediate national best seller. His latest novel is New England White (Knopf, 2007). A recipient of the NAA ...more
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