**spoiler alert** In case you were like me and thought it wasn't about vampires - it is.
But, thankfully, the vampire part stays mostly in the backgro**spoiler alert** In case you were like me and thought it wasn't about vampires - it is.
But, thankfully, the vampire part stays mostly in the background. What really matters is the legacy of Vlad Dracula, and finding out what happened to his body and where he is today.
The thing I liked most about this novel was that it took a quite different approach to a vampire story. Although perhaps a bit too "Da Vinci Code," it did show people fighting the evil of Dracula not just with weapons, but with scholarship. Every new discovery and development gives a thrill, and thankfully the author didn't keep us in the dark too often. The revelations come fast and keep the reader satiated.
One big flaw here is the story structure. For one thing, the novel is mostly divided into two sections, the girl's story and her father, Paul's story. This means that there comes a time in the book when we leave the girl mostly behind and focus on Paul's quest. Also, the book follows a document the contains stories, which contain letters, which sometimes contain other stories. It can be a bit too much to follow sometimes.
The characters are mostly good. Paul isn't written too well, but he does narrate most of the book. It's hard to characterize yourself. Helen, on other hand, is a very well-written character. Some may not find it believable that she and Paul fall in love, but at least these are characters you WANT to fall in love.
Overall, I found the book entertaining and even informative. It's not high literature, but it does keep you guessing and wondering and trying to put the pieces together yourself. ...more
A decent overview of the history of New York's underworld, poverty and vices in the mid-nineteenth to early-twentieth centuries.
Although the subjectA decent overview of the history of New York's underworld, poverty and vices in the mid-nineteenth to early-twentieth centuries.
Although the subject matter would seem quite interesting, I thought the author approached it in a bit of a dry manner at times. For example, making a list of names of famous gangster in the Lower East Side without telling us anything about these people is useless for the reader. Perhaps it serves as documentation, but the reader of the book will likely not need nor remember such a list of names.
In my opinion, when writing a book for the general public, as this book seems to be aimed at, even the academic author must keep in mind that a reader is best served by compelling stories and storytelling. Some parts of this book accomplished that goal, while others did not. Also, I felt some chapters were a bit short compared to the wealth of possibilities each subject could offer. I suppose that is the downside of a general overview.
To be honest, I found the afterword much more compelling than the preceding chapters. The author discusses what it was like to live in the squalor of 1970s and 80s Lower East Side Manhattan. I'd love to hear more about that....more
The Flatiron building in New York City is one of my favorite buildings. Its curves and angles are so pleasing to the eye, and even today one can hardlThe Flatiron building in New York City is one of my favorite buildings. Its curves and angles are so pleasing to the eye, and even today one can hardly imagine how it manages to stay upright.
Although this book is the story of the Flatiron, even more is it the story of the people who envisioned it, built it, and managed it. It's really the story of one Harry Black, the President of the Fuller Company, which constructed the Flatiron.
Many people probably know that the Flatiron was once officially known as the Fuller building, but I, for one, didn't know a thing about the Fuller Company until now. Fuller, which later came under Harry Black's U.S. Realty trust, built not only the Flatiron, but many other iconic New York buildings. The Times building in Times Square, which kind of looks like an inverse Flatiron? Built by Fuller. Macy's in Herald Square? Also built by Fuller. As well as the Plaza Hotel near Central Park.
This book had so many stories about New York City and its turn of the century Real Estate industry, most of which I've never heard. This is a great book for learning about how the New York of most people's dreams was built by a few powerful companies. It's full of colorful characters, infidelity, union troubles, and much more. And, of course, you learn about the genesis of the Flatiron and what it means to New Yorkers....more
I was looking for a good, comprehensive biography of Abraham Lincoln's life. Mission accomplished.
Of course, you will learn all about Lincoln's politiI was looking for a good, comprehensive biography of Abraham Lincoln's life. Mission accomplished.
Of course, you will learn all about Lincoln's political life, but you also get a sense of who he was as a person. A son, a friend, a father, a husband, a community member. Looking back, we think of Lincoln as a strong, intelligent man of leadership. And he was, but it took him a while to get there. He has his problems and weaknesses just like any other human being.
A reader of this book will see how Lincoln had to fight for everything he earned. He worked his way to the top of American political life, and once he reached the top, he found his work had only just begun. This imperfect, somewhat inexperienced man faced managing a war, dealing with splits between Democrats and Republicans and splits within the Republican party, figuring out how to free slaves and integrate them into a white society that did not want them, and above all trying to save the Union. Why was Lincoln a great man? Because he actually managed to do all of the above, or at least set things on the right path. No other President in American history faced such a great burden.
Although this book isn't exactly a page-turner, it is very easy to follow and provides a very good overview of Lincoln's life, both personal and professional. If you want to have a good foundation for learning about the great Abraham Lincoln, this is an ideal place to begin....more
Gets a bit slow at times, but overall it's a really incredible story. It's amazing what trials these men went through. I can't believe I'm saying thisGets a bit slow at times, but overall it's a really incredible story. It's amazing what trials these men went through. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'd recommend watching a documentary or movie about this or reading a summary of the expedition online, and then digging into the details here....more
**spoiler alert** Normally I don't much like novels that follow multiple generations. It's too hard to keep track of everyone, and just when you're us**spoiler alert** Normally I don't much like novels that follow multiple generations. It's too hard to keep track of everyone, and just when you're used to one generation, you've moved on to the next one.
Somehow, this novel breaks that barrier for me. It follows multiple generations over 400 years, skips some generations, and brings new families in and out of the story, but somehow keeps your interest throughout. I think that's because the author is so good at writing relatable characters. You feel like you know these characters even if you haven't read much about them yet, and you truly come to care about them. Without good characters, a multiple-generation story just doesn't work.
New York: The Novel is a great combination of novel and history. It takes the fictional story of a Ducth-Anglo 'old money' family and sets it against all the touchstones of American and New York history -- the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Draft Riots, the Triangle fire, the stock market crash -- all the way up to 9/11. Also included in the narrative are so many familiar New York landmarks including the Five Points, the Public Library, the Chrysler building, and all the splendor of Fifth Avenue. While reading this book, one gets to see New York change over the decades as one building and neighborhood gets built over another, yet somehow the spirit of the city never changes.
I have to say I really enjoyed this novel. It's epic-length and it deserves to be. If you are from New York, it will make you feel at home. If you are from anywhere else, like me, you will still feel at home. We all have a little New York in us....more