I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I can't describe the wherefores & the whys any better than GR member J Keirn-Swanson did, however; read his review...moreI thoroughly enjoyed this book! I can't describe the wherefores & the whys any better than GR member J Keirn-Swanson did, however; read his review!
If you like a) epistolary-driven fiction, b) historical vampire lit, and/or c) eastern European settings: get your hands on a copy of this book.(less)
Picked this up at a thrift store with no knowledge that it has been made into a film or that it has such a following. My question: Why?!? I don't so m...morePicked this up at a thrift store with no knowledge that it has been made into a film or that it has such a following. My question: Why?!? I don't so much mind the historical inaccuracies; it is, after all, fiction (although, the entire final third of the novel is completely fabricated, and the sources Gregory consulted are not considered reputable, so I'm not sure this really qualifies as historical). My real complaint is how utterly pedestrian it is.
It's written in a thoroughly modern voice, and really, what's the point of that? If you are going to write from a modern perspective, Ms. Gregory, why not give the characters modern motives and emotions? Because Mary's words and actions don't jibe, I didn't get the sense that the author knew her protagonist's mind, or, by extension, what she wanted to say as a writer.
Beyond the waffling Mary, there is also the matter of the shallow, caricatured characters. With the exception of George Boleyn, whom I thoroughly liked, that rascal, every character was written as a flat stereotype. There is simply no believing in the scheming, devious, one-dimensional supporting cast.
Finally, any time I can make it through over 600 pages without once needing to consult a dictionary, I am disappointed. I read it in about 3 days, so at least I didn't waste too much time on it. I'm thinking that having a decent working knowledge of the history of that era might have actually exacerbated this problem for me: maybe the readers who enjoyed this more than I did have little background in the customs of the time? Certainly the shock of one GR reviewer at the 'vulgarity' of the story surprised me (really? you didn't expect there to be descriptions of seduction techniques?).
Not much on technique, not much on history, tepid story: hence the 1 star.
This is my new favorite book, and has inspired me to return to Erdrich's earlier novels about this fictional family of families, reminding me how much...moreThis is my new favorite book, and has inspired me to return to Erdrich's earlier novels about this fictional family of families, reminding me how much I love reading about the North Dakota landscape that clearly inspires and shapes her characters.
I have to admit that the story was so funny and poignant that it alternately brought out laughter and tears. I read slowly, breathing in the similes that paint a remarkably vivid picture. I love the gender ambiguity of the protagonist; alternating the narrative between her/his two perspectives was a stroke of genius. The "imperfect perfection" of her characters -- whom I want to embrace, to shake, to sit with at a fire -- they are human, a reflection of our best and our worst. Somehow, Erdrich has made me love these people.