Call me crazy, but some of my favorite books are depressing, dark, and lonely stories of adventure and survival in the face of tragedy. This is one of...moreCall me crazy, but some of my favorite books are depressing, dark, and lonely stories of adventure and survival in the face of tragedy. This is one of those books.
I think I heard this book referred to as a modern American Odyssey and I find that rings true. It's not just the wandering journey home motif of the main character, Inman. It is also the way in which the great American landscape plays a character in and of itself, the way it is seamlessly woven into every other aspect of the novel.
The writing is very descriptive and intimate. the characters are flawed but likeable. The ending is sad, but to be treasured.(less)
I think you can appreciate this book even more if you have a good understanding of oil painting and the history associated with Vermeer's work. For me...moreI think you can appreciate this book even more if you have a good understanding of oil painting and the history associated with Vermeer's work. For me that part was more interesting then the plot itself.
From what I remember, the plot wasn't extremely gripping. Not terrible, but I didn't really come to a point where I found it wholy plausible.
Apart from that, I think it was written beautifully with the writer's words coming off in a similar style to the manner in which Vermeer paints. Soft, humble, and with depth, yet quite vibrant and intuitive.(less)
I'm not sure where you would even find this book in print anymore as I read my mom's old paperback copy from the 70s and I have never seen it in store...moreI'm not sure where you would even find this book in print anymore as I read my mom's old paperback copy from the 70s and I have never seen it in stores.
If you can find it though, it's definitely worth it, especially if you enjoy historical fiction. The book follows the life of Desiree, the woman who was engaged to Napoleon before he "hit the big time." Instead though, she eventually marries one of his rivals and complications ensue.
It's very readable and really interesting because it's all based on the true life events and individuals of the Napoleonic period. Of course it relays much of the information about the wars and political intrigue, but it is much more about the life of the lead female as an aristocratic woman and her personal struggles in relation to the volatile national events of the time. Kind of a love story, but so much more.
I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend reading it if that is your cup of tea.(less)
When I was young my parents took us to Gettysburg a few times and for some reason, I really fell in love with the landscape and the reverberating sens...moreWhen I was young my parents took us to Gettysburg a few times and for some reason, I really fell in love with the landscape and the reverberating sense of history. Just walking in the fields and woods where these battles took place is a rather striking feeling and whenever I read this book, I am immediately and fully reminded of that feeling.
Obviously, you might enjoy this book more if you are a battlefield/history nerd, but even just the human element is quite gripping, especially when you consider how carefully Shaara researched the people and events of this place and time.
Each day of the battle is brought to full life with detailed accounts of the army's movements and how different soldiers played key roles in each turn of events. It's gripping because it's not just a point-by-point account but rather it is woven into one cohesive tale showing the passions of soldiers on both sides.
A definite must-read for any civil war buff.(less)
Begun Christmas 2008—Finished Spring 2010 It has taken me FOREVER to read this book. Granted, while i had it open, i did start and finish several other...moreBegun Christmas 2008—Finished Spring 2010 It has taken me FOREVER to read this book. Granted, while i had it open, i did start and finish several other books which is quite unlike me. It is a good book, in fact, most of it is quite excellent, but for some reason it just did not capture my imagination the way i thought it would, the way i wanted it too and so i was tempted and came back and forth to it over the period of about a year. I'm stubborn though and insist on finishing books even when i don't love them. This book does have a clear and beautiful style, a plot which held all the elements of what promised to be a great read, and a passionate look at art history and religion (both subjects that I usually can't pull myself away from), but I barely managed to slog through it. In short: The love story...it just didn't spark. The murder plot...way too drawn out...the art history entwined with religious theology was interesting and well written but the conversation seemed disconnected throughout the book and the connections back to the pace of actual events languid.
A Turkish friend of mine learned i was reading this and agreed that it although the book holds a lot of promise, it didn't work for her in the original language either (which i thought might be the cause of my not connecting with the text). She did however suggest trying some of his previous works and that reading them would give me a full appreciation for why he won the Nobel Prize in literature. (less)
I'll start by saying I'm not a fan of cheesy romance books, but I do enjoy historical fiction and sometimes fantasy so when a friend recommended this...moreI'll start by saying I'm not a fan of cheesy romance books, but I do enjoy historical fiction and sometimes fantasy so when a friend recommended this series around the time my now husband and I eloped to Scotland, I figured I'd give it a try.
I enjoyed this third installment well enough along with the first two but don't think I'm going to continue with the rest of the series after this as the romance angle is really starting to annoy me despite the rolicking plotline, time travel drenched in historical myth, and well-researched environs (all things I am a huge sucker for). The romance bits read like a cheap dime-store book in comparison and really bring down the plot as they are so heavy-handed and over the top. Overall, the beginning and end of the book were superb but the middle really dragged for me.(less)
I was really looking forward to reading this book. I LOVED her first book "The Historian" and that had taken me by surprise as I don't read about vamp...moreI was really looking forward to reading this book. I LOVED her first book "The Historian" and that had taken me by surprise as I don't read about vampires (and actually had no idea that's what the book was about when I picked it up from a friend). I was swept away by the haunting descriptions, the thrill of a well-researched scholarly chase injected with imagination and myth, the intricate detective work to unravel a "historical" mystery. It seemed that The Swan Thieves promised all those things but around the subject of art history instead. Being an art historian myself, what could be better? Well, it turns out those elements of the book just get lost in the unending character narratives. It's just all about them and their emotional development and only ties in to the larger mystery on rare occasions after you've started to get bored and wonder and hope that the engrossing mystery story line will eventually get its due as it aught to. There's nothing wrong with all the character development, it's basically good writing. But in her first novel, it all tied right back into the mystery. That's a good thing for cohesiveness and for adding depth while still being able to stir the ole potboiler to it's climax. In this book though, it gets superfluous as there are a lot of character details that don't seem to have to do with anything whatsoever. And that's a pity because I think this author really does have a talent and underneath it all, there is a gripping story that needs telling. THAT is a book I'd like to read sometime.
I'm a little more than half-way through the audiobook version and I'm hoping this picks up soon because there's just so much potential for a good book here.
2/18/12 Upon finishing, I have to say my mind didn't change. If only the whole book were as good as the opening and closing scene, sigh.(less)
Whether you are familiar with the Praying Indian towns of pre-colonial Massachusetts and early Harvard or not, this is a deftly nuan...moreI loved this book.
Whether you are familiar with the Praying Indian towns of pre-colonial Massachusetts and early Harvard or not, this is a deftly nuanced, beautiful, and well-researched story of Native Americans and English colonists learning to live together in the 1600's. The story is told from the vantage point of a fictional young girl who is at once able to impart an insider's view of the English as well as an outsider's sympathies and keen inferences as a female and friend of the Native Americans.
I've been leading field trips around Natick, MA, the first Praying Indian town established by John Eliot for the past couple years. I've also researched archival materials on the Indian College and colonial campus foodways on the campus as a student at Harvard so the lines of history pulled together in this story really hit home for me. I was impressed with how Brooks was able to (quite successfully in my view) intertwine a fictional narrative with historical fact and individuals. She really hits all the right notes and in a respectful, vibrant, and engaging manner. Though the title refers to Caleb, telling this story from another voice allows for fact and fiction to be woven together in such a way as to create an incredibly real and reliable account of this incredible period and place in history without putting too many imagined words in the mouth of actual persons. If only more works of historical fiction were as well researched and written as this!(less)