Sue's Reviews > Charleston

Charleston by John Jakes
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's review
Oct 03, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: historical-fiction
Read in August, 2011

I picked up this book because "back in the day" it seemed that EVERYONE was reading John Jakes. (And also because I found a really nice hardback copy of it in the Half Price Books discount bin for $1.00.) I remembered watching the mini-series of North and South on television, I have been to Charleston and found it interesting, etc., etc.. BUT I did not like this book. (Though to be fair, I would probably rate it 1.5 points if I could, because for a brief few chapters, I did want to know what would happen next.)

My primary problem with the book was that I found the characters to be poorly developed; I just couldn't care for them -- at least most of them (that 1.5 thing again). The bad guys were really bad, but primarily for the purpose of moving the plot along. The good guys were really good, but again, primarily for the purpose of moving the plot along, though toward the final chapter, the main female character does show some human complexity when she -- an ardent anti-slavery advocate -- falls for an ex-confederate soldier.

Part of the problem with the characterizations, in my opinion, was that the scope of the book was too large. The main action occurs from the Revolutionary War through the Civil War and into the Reconstruction period. The author appeared to want to include every detail of unrest, rioting, and general mayhem during this period and did so at the expense of the depth of the characterizations. I would rather have read a book about Charleston over a shorter period of time (you know, maybe during just one war?) but felt more connected to the people.

Finally, some of the scenes were too melodramatic even for me. (And I read romances, remember?) Really, Mr. Jakes, even in war time, surely SOME people die of old age in their beds! So, no, I wouldn't recommend this book. But, then again, with a 3.65 average rating, you can see that most reviewers disagree with me. So, what the hell, take your chances! (-:

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Jerzdevs You have issues.

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