This was a captivating story. Well written, based on two historical figures. Illuminating and enlightening. I also appreciated the author's notes at tThis was a captivating story. Well written, based on two historical figures. Illuminating and enlightening. I also appreciated the author's notes at the end. ...more
Well, I've finished reading Ken Follett's "Fall of Giants." It's nearly 1000 pages, but the font and spacing are generous and it went relatively fast.Well, I've finished reading Ken Follett's "Fall of Giants." It's nearly 1000 pages, but the font and spacing are generous and it went relatively fast. I think it took me 2 weeks of reading before sleep (about 45 minutes or so) and two hours relaxing on the couch to get through it.
One (major) review I read beforehand wondered where the editor was, because of a few minor things, and I agree, but it was only issues of repetition and only a few instances. In one instance, it appears almost an entire paragraph of description was used early in the book and then again later. Also, in one place a man's wife was hungry, very hungry due to food shortages. She was also pregnant. He admired her "voluptuous" body and I wondered if even a curvaceous woman would look voluptuous if she was nearly starving...
There weren't enough editorial bumps to be a problem (and I'm an editor so notice these things perhaps more than others) but it makes me wonder why Mr. Follett's publisher didn't provide for his editor(s) to go through his book slowly. Someone was rushing... (Because that is really the key for editors. No rushing!) Anyway....
This is the first of Follett's many successful books that I've read. I really liked it. (Hence my reading on the couch. That's the sign of a really good book, when I read it during the day rather than after dinner and/or before sleep.)
There are many story lines and characters but there's a handy list of characters and their countries in the front. I never had to refer to it, though, so I'm sure you'll have no problem keeping it straight.
I have a particular interest in World War I, begun when (as an indie publisher) I published (and illustrated) British novelist Chris Davey's WWI aviation books about Will Turner. (Check out "The Aviator's Apprentice," "Turner's Flight," and "Turner's Defense.") It's been a few years since I worked on Mr. Davey's books, and I appreciated the chance to learn more about WWI and the battles and the politics behind the various countries' strategies. It was sobering. Sobering to see how so many died, how so many lives depended on the decisions of a few. (The British lost 100,000 men in one battle. A year later, the German's took that advance back.)
I was interested in the inclusion of the Russian storyline and the appearance of Trotsky, especially as my husband, Mark Van Aken Williams, wrote "The Prophet of Sorrow" (a fictional memoir, of sorts, by Trotsky's murderer).
Reading "Fall of Giants" now, with the current world climate, was sobering. What have we learned? I wondered.
"Fall of Giants" is historical fiction, but for me personally, it falls short in character development. I guess there is just not room for it, the book would have to be so much longer and it is definitely long enough. Still, I tend to be drawn to stories that give more insight into the characters' inner lives and at times I thought the characters were stereotypical. The dangerous Russian "godfather" type; the plucky gal in service who gets pregnant; two brothers -- one responsible, one selfish. Social climbing mothers and snobby upper class British men who think they know best. I'm sure they did and do exist, but I like a writer who takes me beyond that. But, in this book, the formula worked and I was hooked, yet I'm glad I also like to read books by writers whose characters are more nuanced.
If you love to read and liked watching Downton Abbey, I bet you would like this book. And, you'll get the perspective of Russian peasants and a German spy who loves a British suffragette socialite. I suppose "Fall of Giants" will be made into a movie or miniseries. I'd watch it!
I'm going to buy book 2 and, when available, book 3 in Follett's series. And read a few of his other books too. I will intersperse these captivating tales with books by other favorite writers, especially those more character driven than plot driven.
Mario Vargas Llosa, recipient of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature, is the first endorsement listed on "Praise for "The Time In Between", just insideMario Vargas Llosa, recipient of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature, is the first endorsement listed on "Praise for "The Time In Between", just inside the cover of this 612 page paperback: "A wonderful novel, in the good old tradition, with intrigue, love, mystery, and tender, audacious, and well-drawn characters."
From the publisher: "The Time In Between", an international bestseller, spans the years between the Spanish civil War and World War II. This beautifully spun novel tells the story of a seamstress who rises to become not just the most sought-after couturiere [dress designer/seamstress] in Madrid and Morocco, but an undercover spy who passes information about the Nazi regime to the British Secret Service by means of a secret code hidden in the patterns of her dresses."
My thoughts: This is one of the best books I have ever read, and I will be sure to read it again and again. Duenas is a masterful storyteller. As reader and a writer, I began to eagerly anticipate how she ended each chapter, because the plot is woven in such a way that the reader feels they must keep reading. Her sentences are beautiful, but never filled with extemporaneous words. (The book was written in Spanish and translated to English by Daniel Hahn.) The historical events that took place in Spain during this period were unknown to me, and the push and pull between German and British interests was intriguing. I have the feeling Duenas could write about ANYTHING and make a completely captivating story.
The main character, Sira, is a compelling woman who, at the start of the story, is like many young women, considering marriage to a local boy and longtime friend, working with her mother in a dressmaking shop, but a choice she makes alters the course of her life. The way the author tells the story is so authentic in how many women's lives are...full of variety and up-and-down phases, and coincidence and the bad and good will of other people... Honestly, this is one of the best-told stories I have ever read.
If you are looking for a gift for someone who loves to read and perhaps they are having surgery and need something completely captivating to escape into... If you are looking for something yourself to read that will stand heads above much of the "women's fiction" on the market today, then "The Time In Between" is the book for you. Adult women of all ages will enjoy this book....more
This book was on my husband, Mark Van Aken Williams', bookshelf. When we unpacked our boxes after our move, we came across this and Mark said I wouldThis book was on my husband, Mark Van Aken Williams', bookshelf. When we unpacked our boxes after our move, we came across this and Mark said I would probably like it. He was right, "The Seamstress" is a really interesting, absorbing book about a place, time, and people I knew nothing about. And it focuses on two sisters, which is a theme I like as well. These two sisters are on completely different paths in life, and their lives are also determined by the men they are with. How they cope with this dependency and how their lives intersect is most interesting. I give "The Seamstress" five stars!...more
I choose to read this book because I've been researching family history and many of my relatives arrived in the US in the 1600s and lived in Mass. andI choose to read this book because I've been researching family history and many of my relatives arrived in the US in the 1600s and lived in Mass. and CT in the 1600 and 1700s. Two of them came to America as indentured servants (one from France and one from England) and then they married. I thought this might give me an idea of what life was like for these ancestors.
Gunning has been recognized by professional reviewers as an excellent storyteller and she certainly is. I read this book quickly (in the Nook version) and enjoyed it very much. I did not give it 5 stars because there were no characters in the book I felt passionate about. Perhaps that is not a good reason to withhold a star, but I am going to save those stars for characters I would want to spend more time with; respect greatly; or find unforgettable. It was difficult for me to understand why the main character, Alice, made some of the choices she did, but then when I remind myself that she was a young girl raised in impossibly harsh circumstances, I can understand why she behaved the way she did. She is endearing, though frustrating to those who she finds who do come to care for her. I suspect Ms. Gunning researched not only history but the psychology of abused children. I have not, so who am I to say she gave her Alice baffling behavior?
I would definitely recommend this to anyone interested in this time period and in the lives of women in early American history. It would be a good book for high school seniors to read, though I realize the material may be too adult to pass curriculum muster. If I had a daughter, I'd like to read this book with her and discuss it....more
Before purchasing this for my Nook, I read other reviews and most of them were negative. I agree. Nothing really happens in this book. Save yourself tBefore purchasing this for my Nook, I read other reviews and most of them were negative. I agree. Nothing really happens in this book. Save yourself time and money and read reviews with spoilers. There is one major thing at the end, but nothing you can't figure out in the next book, which folks say is very very good and right up there with books 1, 2, and 3.
I don't know what happened with book 4, but it was 1300 ebook pages of "I just want to get done so I can go to the next book which I hope will be better." Unfortunately I feel I have overdosed on Outlander, so will take a break before the treat of book 6.
FYI: The first 230 pages are ONE DAY. sigh....more