In addition to my own reading, I'm now doing service as a story reader for my two daughters.
I think I liked this one more than they did because its aIn addition to my own reading, I'm now doing service as a story reader for my two daughters.
I think I liked this one more than they did because its a story that really requires an adult appreciation of art and history to fully get. The story is grows with its reader.
This is a story of colonial America, and the art mimics the colonial American style of folk art wonderfully. The story of the ox-cart man, his family, thier farm, and thier cyclic seasonal labors is told in simple almost poetic language which has a rhythm that seems to pace the passing days.
I love this stories themes of family, what used to be called the Yankee (or Protestant) work ethic, industry and simplicity. The ox-cart man achieves greatness in small things, and that is a very big thing indeed....more
I was enjoying this book far more than I wanted to, given the fact that ultimately it was a murder mystery that failed to satisfy in any fashion. FortI was enjoying this book far more than I wanted to, given the fact that ultimately it was a murder mystery that failed to satisfy in any fashion. Fortunately, the story let go of me before I got to the end.
The reason I was enjoying this book so much is that I'm a sucker for history, and even such well picked over carrion as the final days of the Roman Republic managed to be pretty gripping and interesting for me in the author's hand.
But at the same time, one of my pet peeves in historical fiction is a story which would not be particularly gripping or be deemed particularly well told were it not for the luminous names that the author liberally sprinkles the tale with. In this case, those names are Cicero, Marc Anthony, Julius Caesar, Pompey, and the like - a cast of characters that have already lent themselves to every sort of story good or bad like stock character actors always vying for the best supporting role.
In some cases in this story, the name dropping was particularly bad. I won't actually say which characters were mere name dropping, because I'm striving to give a spoiler free review, but a couple struck me as written into the story for no reason at all. There is to me a certain basic dishonesty in this which is only justifiable if the story is good enough as a story on its own and doesn't lean too heavily on its pretensions of historicity.
The basic problem I had with the story is that it was a murder mystery without a compelling mystery, compelling detective, or compelling villain. The few small twists introduced by the author were entirely predictable and well foreseen, and I was forced to endure following along the trail of sleuth who seems to be of rather less than average cleverness. I find this pretty much unforgivable in a mystery novel.
Still, Saylor is good historian that manages to make his history come alive while resorting to comparitively few anachronisms. So, even though its not that great of a story, I must in honesty confess my weakness and bump my rating up from 'It's ok' to 'I liked it'....more