I enjoyed reading about the history of the early 1900s and what the immigrants had to face as they entered their new surroundings, but the fictionaliz...moreI enjoyed reading about the history of the early 1900s and what the immigrants had to face as they entered their new surroundings, but the fictionalized parts of the story were quite unbelievable, especially when trying to tie up loose ends in the final chapter. The author also did way too much foreshadowing. There were no surprises.
As far as I can tell, Stewart did seem to accurately portray life during this era - covering topics such as poverty, politics, prejudice, music, unions, morality, and millionaires.
When reading the Introduction to this edition, please note the date of publication - 1983, before Ellis Island was renovated.
I am rating this a 4 for historical writing and a 2 for fictional writing. (less)
I enjoy historical fiction, and had been looking forward to reading about Texas, the American Indians, and the cattle and oil industry. I started liki...moreI enjoy historical fiction, and had been looking forward to reading about Texas, the American Indians, and the cattle and oil industry. I started liking this novel very much in the beginning, as each main character was introduced; but the further I got into it, I found some of the writing quite repetitious of many details. I would have preferred more character development and dialogue. I was determined to finish this because I did want to see how each generation turned out. I found the near-to-the-end fifty pages or so very complicated and rushed, but the final several pages were some of his best writing and left me with a more positive attitude.
The switching back and forth between several characters, who lived in different eras, was not pleasant for me. I was grateful for the family tree in the front of the book, and had to refer to it often to keep track of parents, children, and siblings.
With all of the highly rated reviews I had seen, I was expecting more. I agree that it is mostly well-written, but I guess it is just not my cup of tea to earn a four or a five from me. Obviously, many readers loved this book. "De gustibus non est disputandum," as my husband often reminds me!(less)
I hesitated between four or five stars for this book, and I rarely give fives, mostly because of the Goodreads descriptive words, "It was amazing." (A...moreI hesitated between four or five stars for this book, and I rarely give fives, mostly because of the Goodreads descriptive words, "It was amazing." (Amazing is just too strong for me in most cases.) However, as I tried to find a weakness in it, I couldn't, hence the 5.
It met my preferred qualities of a good book: intelligent writing, interesting characters (both likeable and nasty), entertaining, informative, and a page-turner. I knew how tragic slavery was (sadly, still is in some areas), but the author's descriptions were quite powerful. I could feel the pain of the victims, the emotions of the onlookers, and the nonchalance of the owners! How sad!
I had never heard of the Grimke sisters, and I did not recognize all of the real characters that were mentioned in the novel. Don't miss reading the Author's Notes at the end. How fortunate our world is to have had such courageous people fight for what is right. We need more of this!
I had loved Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, but I was disappointed in The Mermaid Chair, so I had not been eager to read her next one, and for some reason, I had not heard all of the good things about this book until after I finished reading it. I am so glad I stumbled upon this at the library last week! (less)