While the narrative seemed to move back and forth in time more than necessary, the story is very captivating, drawing the reader into what is almost aWhile the narrative seemed to move back and forth in time more than necessary, the story is very captivating, drawing the reader into what is almost an apocalyptic setting: Chechnya between the mid-1990s and 2004, touching on the two Russian-Chechen wars, the time in between, and the stories of a handful of people who either survived them or do not. The characters attempt to eke out an existence on the blasted landscape, navigate the ruined cities, and live together nearly without touching, because a neighbor's could betrayal could cause you to be "disappeared". It's a unique story about a part of the world of which I was almost totally ignorant - I'll never again think of Chechnya without recalling the indifferently-committed human rights crimes and the struggles for everyday people to survive a wrecked world with some sense of human dignity and connection to their fellow humans....more
I did not enjoy this as much as I had hoped - interesting, yes. Enjoyed the exposure to English history in the time of the Tudor, certainly.
My quibblI did not enjoy this as much as I had hoped - interesting, yes. Enjoyed the exposure to English history in the time of the Tudor, certainly.
My quibbles with the book are mostly stylistic and navigational ones. Since Mantel writes totally from the point of view of Thomas Cromwell, she does not seem to feel the need to identify him as the speaker (or thinker) a good percentage of the time, using "he" as if we should know that means Cromwell, even when there are four other men in the conversation.
The list of players in the front of the volume are helpful, but it would have been even more helpful to have an alphabetical character list as well. In that list the author would make sure to include all the different names each of the characters has(many of them have several names/titles)as well as each characters significant relationships with the others.
If I could give it 2-1/2 stars, that would be my choice. It has a lot to recommend it (and I know it has appeared on "best book" lists by critics and readers I respect, I frankly found it a bit of a slog. The next volume, "Bring up the Bodies" is considerably shorter - and now that I know the characters, I think it will be more fun....more
This was fun to read mainly because of the Seattle subject matter: two parallel stories are told, both concerning the man known as Mr. Worlds Fair. RoThis was fun to read mainly because of the Seattle subject matter: two parallel stories are told, both concerning the man known as Mr. Worlds Fair. Roger Morgan, who(fictionally)was the driving force behind the Century 21 Exhibition in Seattle in 1962, decides in 2001 to run for mayor. Helen Gulanos, a new investigative reporter in town, working for the dying Post-Intelligencer, is put on the Morgan story. She begins to dig up evidence of corruption by Morgan associates (and perhaps Morgan himself)during the run up to the World's Fair. Does this much beloved civic leader have a chance once the press begins to unearth secrets? It's fun - and instructive - to catch glimpses of Seattle 50 years back and then ten years from today. How different are today's politics and political characters compared to 1962? Throw in a bit of whodunit (who profited from graft, cronyism, card rooms and strip joints back in the sexy sixties?) and you have a delectable story showcasing views of Seattle most of us who live here are unaware of....more
Remarkable story - interesting read. I certainly did not know before reading this historical novel that some of the most important early fossil discovRemarkable story - interesting read. I certainly did not know before reading this historical novel that some of the most important early fossil discoveries were made by women - the two historical characters who are the protagonists here. Well researched and effectively told....more
A very satisfying mix of darkly atmospheric police procedural and historical fiction in the tradition of Alan Furst or John Le Carre. The novel is setA very satisfying mix of darkly atmospheric police procedural and historical fiction in the tradition of Alan Furst or John Le Carre. The novel is set in Berlin in 1919 in the aftermath of WWI and immediately following the failed attempt at Marxist revolution against Germany's new Weimar government by Karl Liebknicht,Rosa Luxemburg, and their followers. The bodies of Liebknicht and others were found brutally murdered by paramilitary thugs, but Luxemburg's body didn't turn up for five months. Rabb's compelling novel is an imagined scenario of why that may have happened as the Luxemburg case is folded into an ongoing serial murder investigation by a Berlin Kripo (Kriminalpolizei) detective, Nikolai Hoffner. It's also an examination of the political forces at work as various groups maneuvered for control of post-war Germany, and a fascinating tour through several social strata of a war-ravaged Berlin that had yet to develop the reckless, creative party culture of the '20s "Cabaret" era, or the subsequent excesses and repressions of National Socialism. Unfortunately, this books seems to be out of print in the US at present, so is somewhat difficult to acquire. Some libraries have copies, the recorded version on CD is available, or you can order from online bookstores in the UK, which is what I did....more