This was a cute little book written in epistolary form -- letters from a college professor to various others, including a large number of letters of rThis was a cute little book written in epistolary form -- letters from a college professor to various others, including a large number of letters of recommendation for his students. The remaining letters are mostly complaining about having to write said letters of recommendation, however there are also letters complaining about the construction happening in his current office, the demise of his personal relationships, and the fact that he can't get anyone to publish his graduate student's book.
While the complaining and the professor's offensive writing is initially amusing, the gimmick gets old too fast... which is impressive considering how short the book is. About 2/3 of the way through I found myself getting bored, and this is the same place where my husband gave in entirely and stopped reading. I finished it, because I do that, but also because I wanted to know if the grad student's book ever got published.
The ending surprised me, I definitely didn't see it coming. That might be a reason to keep going if you were considering not. Ended up being a more sad book than I expected....more
I loved this! Now I'm sad I put it off -- I was falling behind a bit during the week I was supposed to read this for my challenge, and since this bookI loved this! Now I'm sad I put it off -- I was falling behind a bit during the week I was supposed to read this for my challenge, and since this book was so long I figured if I skipped it I could catch up faster than if I'd skipped one of the skinnier books.
And when I did get to it, I decided to get the audio version from Audible. That was a great decision also - the narration is excellent, and it allowed me to parallelize and have this chunky book going at the same time as I went through a few others in the paper version.
Anyway, the actual book! It is a fictionalized telling from the point of view of a set of Jewish people covering a time period from somewhat before WWII until the formation of Israel and some of the ramifications of that. As far as I can tell, the details are fairly historically accurate - the author was a war correspondent during this time period so much of the story is based on his personal recollections. It even turned out that parts of the book that I had expected to be fictionalized were real events, such as the Exodus itself, a ship converted to be able to carry Jewish passengers from other countries into Palestine.
It's interesting. During middle school, high school, and undergraduate college years I took American History a bazillion times. But it turns out that history teachers are uniformly bad at planning -- every class started back with Columbus, events leading up to the Revolutionary War, etc, and never did make it to World War I. One class I was in made it into the 1920s, but we skipped over the war and instead talked about flappers and the stock market crash. I suppose WWI was more Europe centered, but still. WWII never made it into any of my course work. So this book was one of my first exposures to anything other than the events that happened in Germany and Poland. I feel like this should be required reading in high schools! It'd be much more interesting than the text book.
The main characters in the novel are fictional, although they interact with real historical figures and events. Uris does a great job of bringing them to life and making them feel real though - I was sad when the novel ended and feel as though I will miss them! Ari is definitely one of my favorite fictional characters. There is romance and love, betrayal, and of course sadness and death. The characters all react in different but believable ways to the events around them, and they generlaly change and become stronger throughout the course of the novel.
I highly recommend this book, and the audio version if you are into them. There are a few parts that I spaced out on, mainly where it got more into some of the political aspects, which I know are important but just not as exciting as hearing what the characters were up to throughout that time. But they are few and far between given the length and topic of this book... that combination could have led this to be very dry indeed, but Uris avoids that and creates what I'd call a historical masterpiece....more