Genia Lukin's Reviews > Fall of Giants

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett
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Apr 11, 12

bookshelves: historical
Read from April 03 to 11, 2012

Do not say that I don't like historical fiction - because I do. Do not even say I don't like Follett - because I rather do. In fact, this highly praised - and very thick - volume I'd been anticipating eagerly, both because I had pleasant memories from The Pillars of the Earth and because currently I am rather WWI mad; I read Tuchman's classic works, Maddox Ford, not to mention Hemingway and Remarque, because I am fascinated by the subject.

So what in the world went wrong with this book?

This story, which is, like many Folletts, incredibly wide in scope and encompasses a decade, about fifty characters, and several countries, described the beginning of the 20th century, with a special focus, so the book blurb claims, on WWI. It begins with a prologue in 1911 (though the main thrust of the book occurs in 1914) and ends with an epilogue in 1924. The title, Fall of Giants is rather deceptive; one may think it refers to the fall of empires which was brought about chiefly by WWI, but in fact it refers to the fall of aristocracies.

Here begin our issues. While the historical research that went into this book is clearly good - though with occasional snags and eyebrow-raising issues - the lens through which it was painted is speculative and political. Follett chooses to view everything - women's suffrage, personal relations, random little quarrels, and especially the World War - as one big struggle of the 'workingman' and the 'people' against their oppressors, the upper classes.

Commence problems.

For one, you simply cannot simplify an entire era to class struggle. Clearly, it played a significant role in the politics and life of the period, but there is a good chance that WWI actually was not an issue of class struggle. It had its own set of complex and unpleasant reasons, and some of them were class-related, while the majority was not. Secondly, at the beginning of the 20th century especially, one cannot write the class differences in the same way one does in the 11th century (or whenever it was that The Pillars of the Earth was set). Relationships changed, notions changed (actually improved somewhat), and it becomes that much more difficult to present upper class people as the villains, as ones assuming they are 'born to command' or, and this bothered me especially, as uniformly stupid.

The book came out with gems like "all the officers were idiots, all the sergeants were smart" or something in that vein. Sergeants being working class, while officers, of course, belonged to the upper classes. There is definitely everything in the world to be said for merit, but the notion that in a huge, conscripted army, officers as a whole had not a scrap of talent among them is almost a statistical impossibility.

The problem is not the mere presentation of the facts; it is well-known that they were not much better than Follett presents, and in some ways even worse - though generally the guilty parties were not so much the nobility, anymore, as the great industrialists. The problem is that he shoves everything and every situation into the same tired framework, presents even quarrels of ideology in the light of 'if two women from different classes fight, the upper-class arrogance must be at fault', and has some serious trouble determining who 'people' are. For instance, in the description of the Russian revolution, he seems to neatly forget that the middle classes are as much 'people' as the factory workers are. The same is true for certain situations in England.

The double standard the author applies tends to show in intelligence, awareness, common sense, (Now there's a pretty reverse prejudice for you; people of the working classes universally seem to possess more common sense and presence of mind in the 'real world' than their airy, upper class counterparts. This propensity is so universal, it practically smacks of stereotyping.) and emotional breadth. After 920 pages, it tires one quickly.

If the novel's only problem were excessive political correctness - expressed also in the descriptions of the war itself - I would chalk it up to modern sensibilities, misplaced, perhaps, but generally laudable. Though it still irritates me, I should not criticize the novel so severely as, meant for the popular reader, it seems that the historical writer almost feels obliged, today, to prop up the wretched of this world. Unfortunately, these are not its own detriments. The author, once again in a nod to popular, modern literature, makes much of passionate love, ascension from the 'everyman' and the superiority of that same 'everyman'. All topics which are the permeating slogans of the present day but whose actual validity is dubious.

It's astonishing how many of his positive characters somehow wind up in key political roles. Two siblings from the same family, not to mention some three or four others. The coincidences that are created to somehow bring these characters to the top walks of life are not particularly inspired, nor endearing.

The writing itself, though, was the straw that broke the camel's back for me. A well-written book should be able to cover up for its flaws with the language it uses; this one, sadly, only emphasized them.

The problem appears to be twofold; the author writes a shopping-list, rather than a story. "He went. He came. He sat down. he saw her." Even I, amateurish writer though I am, know better than to do that. Also, the transitions, sometimes within the same paragraph itself, sometimes between paragraphs, are fantastically awkward. We may well have the sentence "He picked up the glass. The war was beginning. He put the glass down." He also manages to turn such events as a birth out of a hospital, the battle of the Somme, and a family throwing its daughter out, to completely maudlin and quotidian.

The second problem with the writing is that it is staggeringly, unabashedly didactic. Follett clearly writes for an audience which he supposes to be clueless, and makes no effort at all to conceal the history and sociology lessons he is giving. That also makes the dialogue sound awful, along the lines of: "You know, of course, that H. H. Asquith, the current prime minister..." Who in the world talks like that? Nobody in their right mind. His speech writing is tortuous in exactly the opposite way of Ford Madox Ford's elliptical ambiguity, and murder one's sense of reality in almost the same way.

I wish this were a better book, because I wanted very much a good book that deals with WWI. I wish this were the wide-scope, sweeping, thrilling epic it's supposed to be, because there is nothing more enjoyable than an epic that leaves you breathless, gulping it down, wanting more. Something like M. M. Kay's Far Pavilions, without the colonialism. I wish it were all of these things, but it really isn't. It's a book far too long for its own good on the one hand, and not nearly long or detailed enough on the other. The author gulped down so much time and space, he literally has no time or room to descent to descriptions much. It's a didactic, preachy, fantastically un-nuanced piece of writing, which suffers from laundry0list qualities, and apparently did not go through the capable hands of an editor.
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04/03/2012 page 29
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Comments (showing 1-50 of 61) (61 new)


message 1: by Judy (new)

Judy Good, concise review. I read your review because after reading The Pillars of the Earth I swore I'd never read another Follett due to the poor quality of writing. Its too bad the writing is so bad because he chooses interesting subject-matters.


Milie hello, I just finished the book, with the same feeling. I wrote to Ken Follett to let him know how much I felt he failed this book. It was quite a disappointment! Being a big fan of Pillars of the Earth and A Dangerous Fortune, I had great expectations for Fall of the Giants.
Here is what I wrote to him, but you wrote it better :
"yet, I've been quite disapointed by some of your work.
"World without end" was so annoying, it almost killed me. It was far from having the epicness of Pillars of the Earth.
I am reading right now "Fall of the Giants" and again, I don't like it. I just LOVE WW1 stories. I live very near Chateau Thierry, la Marne is my story, and there is something epic, and terrifying, in this war. Everybook or movie I read/watch about WW1 makes me cry. The suffering. The dirt. The cold. The wounds. The families stroke by the death of their husbands and sons. The wives and daughters handling the farm chores and industrial work. The broken faces. The letters, the despair, the love. I was really looking forward to reading this story from you. I was sure it was going to be epic and wonderfull and terrible, and breathtaking.
Well I almost finished the book, and I am sorry to say it wasn't.
I figured WW1 isn't the story you wanted to tell. It's just a set. You mention it as a background for your characters. Fine. But the characters themselves, are not, to my taste, "deep" enough. I didn't get attached to any of them.
What I figured, is that the story you want to tell is the century's story. ("thank you, Cap'tain Obvious!") In order to to this, you used a little bit of sets and backgrounds (walles, ww1, Petrograd), a little bit of political issues (walter, Gus, Grigori, Ethel) and a little bit of human relationships (Maud, Katerina, Lev, Ethel). But in the whole, I felt like you should have made a choice between those three sides of the story. Because as it is now, I felt a stranger to you characters, I felt ignorant of the great political deals of the time, I felt uniterested in the russian revolution and WW1. You have too many stories to tell to fit them all in one book and make it breathtaking. I felt it was laking coherence. In order to tell all the stories of this amazing and troubled time, you missed it and said nothing. Nothing about the epicness of WW1. Nothing about the epicness of the russian revolution. Nothing about the epicness of your characters. Nothing about the epicness of the great worldwide political issues. By trying to tell all of them, I feel you missed them all.
The story left me frustrated."
your sentence sums it all up : " I wish it were all of these things, but it really isn't. It's a book far too long for its own good on the one hand, and not nearly long or detailed enough on the other."
thanks for helping me putt words on my feelings after the read.

Emilie (french)


message 3: by Chrissie (new) - added it

Chrissie Some people love Ken Follet's books, others will not touch them after one encounter. I have read over and over again the different views. Your review is the first that clearly explains , point by point why I would probably fit into the latter group, those that do NOT love his opuses. Thank you for this clear explanation.


message 4: by Michael (new)

Michael Thank you for the wonderful review. I read this book a long time ago, and I didn't like it. I felt the writing was amateurish and was embarrassed to notice at that time that I was the only person who felt so.


message 5: by Ron (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ron Decaigny Your review is spot on. I'm a history buff and a sometimes Follet fan but this one really disapoints. Take a Readers Digest version of
the Guns of August populate it with cliched characters, pop them into some key historic scenes add a dollop of sex
stretch it out to 1000pages and there you go. Needs a lot more subtilty and balance.


Genia Lukin Except I absolutely loved The Guns of August. But yes, that's basically my impression of it.


Oismiffy After a hundred pages or so if you don't like a book, why did you continue to read it? At the risk of stereotyping you, it smacks of a lack of common sense!!

Seriously though, it's just a work of fiction - it's written to entertain the masses, not educate them! There are a lot of more accurate books out there to choose from if that's what you prefer.

Happy reading!?


Wiley I totally agree with your review. This book was a HUGE disappointment. Yes, I was not liking many aspects of it by the 200th page, give or take...but I stuck with it hoping it would improve as the story unfolded. It did not. I had planned to read this, then immediately go on to the next book in the trilogy which is set in the WWII timeframe, a favorite historical era/event of mine. I won't waste the time or money to read what seems to be a partially, if not totally, ghost-written trilogy.


Stacielynn I appreciate your thoughtful and rather spot-on analysis of the book. I agree with much of what you said -- the writing is not up to snuff and it is no Pillars of the Earth (my personal favorite Follett).

Nonetheless, I divide my reading into categories: literary, entertainment, and enlightenment. I didn't pick up this book expecting to be blown away by his prose. I chose it for the story, the heft, the breadth. And I got what I wanted: a tolerable piece of historical fiction that kept me happily entertained for a few days. There were even a few events and characters that caused me to think for a bit after I put the book down.

I could suggest it to a friend without a qualm as a great beach read or something to take in a carry-on while traveling. The caveat is to manage expectations.


message 10: by Genia (new) - rated it 1 star

Genia Lukin See, I both agree and disagree with your approach.

I agree primarily because there are plenty of reads that I have which are "brain candy". I read them while brain dead, after exams,in airports, et cetera, et cetera. So I understand what you mean when you are talking about managing expectations. There are certainly plain ol' entertaining books of little literary value I enjoyed, like The Help, of Nesbo's detective novels.

On the other paw, I had to pan this book because on a perfectly ordinary level, I simply failed to be entertained. In order to be entertained, I have to have a story that at least flows; that has something that grabs and interests me, whether it is a fun, light prose, characters I enjoy, a world or setting I find fascinating, and so on. Plenty of the more trashy sci-fi and fantasy float the brain candy bar precisely on the virtue of fun characters, hopping plot, and world-building.

Fall of Giants did none of these things. its characters were cliche and obnoxious, the political agenda the author couldn't stop hammering my head with got on my nerves, and the writing style made it outright difficult for me to read. I didn't rate it qau literature - I rated it qua entertainment, and it still rated execrably.


Stacielynn Genia-
You are totally right in how you described this. I was reading this book because I had started it and wanted to see what happened. I was not especially committed to a specific character or pleased with the prose. I think that when I read this I was in a more indulgent state of mind than I sometimes am. From your description I can see where on another day I could easily have tossed it across the room in disgust.


Polloplayer Not quite a hundred pages in but am already picking up on the political bias you mention. The leftists are all hardworking, noble and attractive. Does not bode well, but I like the Follett books as they are an easy "in" to a historical period from which to springboard to more weighty works. I'm hoping to read Ten Days that Shook the World on the tails of this book.


message 13: by Nyeta (new) - added it

Nyeta Hmmm... Just wondering... Have you written a novel of this magnitude?


message 14: by Genia (new) - rated it 1 star

Genia Lukin Ad hominems are my favourite things!

No, of course I haven't written an almost 1000 page novel and published it, otherwise it would say so in my profile. But all those exciting insinuations you are making are still not relevant, and this for several reasons:

Firstly, the fact that I, as a person, have not done a particular X or Y does not in any way void my arguments. The arguments need to stand for themselves. If you want to dispute the nature of the arguments, rather than my credibility as the arguer, that is a whole different matter.

Secondly, I've written a few long things. They were not 922 pages, but still, here they are. So I am aware of such concepts as ending fatigue, and writer's block, and none of them is a good excuse. I have written crap, but I expect better out of a published author with years of fame and bestselling titles behind him. I expect him to write more subtly - something which is completely independent of length, by the way, and which I am fairly confident of my ability to do - and to mesh his sentences better. No amount of fatigue is a sufficient excuse.

And Thirdly, while I have not written a 922 page novel yet, I have certainly read quite a few of them - you are welcome to browse my book list and see. Thus I know that it is, in fact, possible, to write a good, even an excellent one. I can, from my experience as a reader, rather than a writer, detect what makes a good book, and what makes a bad one, and make a fairly experienced, cohesive judgment, about where a specific book belongs.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks for your review. I loved the early period of this novel, especially the insight into the lives of the Welsh miners and thought the buildup to the complexities surrounding the outbreak of WW1 quite well explained considering that historians are still struggling with the reasons why the assassination of a fairly minor royal in the Balkans should have so many global repercussions. And indeed, this period was rife with anarchist activity and regicide, so why this particular event? I so agree with comments on how Follett covered the war itself, it's so sanitized as to be almost an insult to the men who suffered and died on the killing fields of the Western Front and other, less well-known areas ... and they were overwhelmingly male because female nurses were not allowed any further forward than the Casualty Clearing Stations.
By two-thirds through, I just could not be bothered listening any longer, I am generally a bit more forgiving about the books I listen to on my ramblings but no more. Was Lady Maud really such an insufferable prig that she could not condone any opposition to her views? And as for the big reunion between her and Walter in Stockholm, or was it Oslo? Gahhhh, I don't care ... talk about implausible. The Russian Revolution just went on and on and on, can't be bothered finishing it.
Pat Barker's Trilogy is probably the best I've read on WW1, but also loved a more recent read "The Absolutist."


message 16: by Kerr (new)

Kerr Smith Bravo! Incisive, thoughtful, intelligent review. Spared me the
temptation to indulge this novel.


message 17: by Valeri (new)

Valeri Miller For well written, historically accurate fiction covering WWI, I highly recommend Anne Perry's series. The first is No Graves as Yet.


Joscelyn Krauss litvak Amazing review! you just put into words my exact feelings and perception which did not come to me in the form of words. I found it "entertaining" and I assumed that by qualifying a Ken Follet's novel as entertaining I was giving the hint of "not superb" as was the case with "Pillars of the Earth".
I still recommended it to friends because…well, it's entertaining and sometimes we just need that.


message 19: by Genia (new) - rated it 1 star

Genia Lukin I've got a reading list the length of the Second Exile. But I'll probably look into these once I've finished the books I have... in about a year.


message 20: by Kerr (new)

Kerr Smith Nyeta wrote: "Hmmm... Just wondering... Have you written a novel of this magnitude?"


Very few of us have written 900-page novels, but somehow we are able to figure out whether or not we enjoy a book.


Antilawyer This: "The writing itself, though, was the straw that broke the camel's back for me. A well-written book should be able to cover up for its flaws with the language it uses; this one, sadly, only emphasized them." Not having read Follet previously I had, perhaps, unrealistic expectations. I enjoyed learning a bit more about WWI and was entertained, but the WRITING! He doesn't have much faith in his readers, does he?


message 22: by Genia (new) - rated it 1 star

Genia Lukin I think the problem may be more that he hasn't much faith in his editors.


message 23: by Fred (new) - rated it 4 stars

Fred Kohn I very much appreciate this review. I understand your viewpoint because 300 pages into the book I wondered if I could possibly go on if I was not reading it for a book group. However I felt Follett brought it all together. I can't agree with your critique that it was all about the working class being smart and the upper class being dumb. Lev was from the peasant class and he was an execrable character. Walter and Gus were from the upper class and they were portrayed quite sympathetically. I found the novel more nuanced than you did, I'm afraid.


Andrea I have to disagree with some of your comments. I certainly did not find the book to have "reverse stereotyping" where all the aristocrats were bad and dumb and all the lower class characters were good and smart. The Earl Fitzherbert started off very realistically, as a good man who made selfish, bad choices, based on plausible motivation. Towards the end, he did get a little less complex and more disagreeable but this was also believable, as a result of the war. Walter and Gus were essentially aristocrats, though they may not have had a title, and they were very positively portrayed. Conversely, the Russian policeman, Pinsky, Lev, even Katerina, and others were of the lower class and did things that were cruel and reprehensible. I found the vast majority of the characters to be shown in realistic shades of gray, with both good qualities as well as flaws.

I also think the writing style was fine, perfect for a book of this length. With a book of this length, you would want to keep the writing easily accessible.


Vanessa Wester I think anyone who is capable of writing a novel of this magnitude deserves much more than a 1 - I accept your point of view & critique, but a 1? Seriously...

Sorry, but I can't agree with your rating. It is an insult to the author.


message 26: by Ed (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ed If you are really interested in an unbiased historians view of WWI in a very readable volume, try John Keegan's "The First World War." BTW, on a recent rip to the Ypres Battlefield, I was told that the Germans felt they had three things going for themselves, German discipline, German armament, and Douglas Haig. Sacrificing a half-million soldiers for an advance of a few miles does not seem like good generalship to me.


message 27: by Genia (new) - rated it 1 star

Genia Lukin I concur wholeheartedly; nobody in WWI had good generalship, neither the French, nor the Russians or Italians, (dear God!) nor the English - nor the Germans, to be frank. Barbara Tuchmann presents a very sorrowful and sordid picture of the state of affairs that WWI generalship was in, and it is not remotely pretty. Follett doesn't really get into that, though, does he?

If you want a truly devastating account of the Italian front, I recommend The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front 1915-1919. The writing is not all that, but this is a case where the subject matter makes up for it.


message 28: by Genia (new) - rated it 1 star

Genia Lukin Vanessa wrote: "I think anyone who is capable of writing a novel of this magnitude deserves much more than a 1 - I accept your point of view & critique, but a 1? Seriously...

Sorry, but I can't agree with your ra..."


You're welcome to disagree with me, by all means, and rate the book as you see fit, so long as we share the mutual understanding that I, too, may rate my books however I see fit. I shan't dispute your ratings, and I expect the same for me. That is why ratings are both personal and cumulative - I rate my books on my own, according to my desires and criteria, but the sum total rating of a given book is the average of all opinions people have on it. Your rating, and mine, have a part in that.


message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

Good grief! Your review and response are almost as long as the novel!


message 30: by Genia (new) - rated it 1 star

Genia Lukin See? I -can- produce a better-written 1000 pages. :)


message 31: by Anne (last edited Jan 13, 2014 04:31PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anne Genia wrote: "See? I -can- produce a better-written 1000 pages. :)"

I love this thread. Especially your last comment, Genia. :)


message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

Gotta disagree with the "better written" part but I'll give you the 1000 pages!


message 33: by Mark (new)

Mark I would say, immeasurably "better written" than Follett's linguistically infelicitous heap of compost.


message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

You might just say you don't care for Mr. Follet's writings. Insulting his work seems a bit pretentious


message 35: by Mark (last edited Jan 28, 2014 12:53PM) (new)

Mark Heather - It wasn't pretentious. It was a perfectly sincere expression of disgust and contempt. It's not illegal to have a very negative opinion of an author's writing. (I would also venture to remark that Follett is a public figure. You, on the other hand, have elected to insult a non-public one: me. And with an accusation that appears not to distinguish between rhetorical negativity and pretentiousness.)


message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

No, not illegal at all but a tad pretentious to make such scathing remarks about a well respected and popular author. I would suggest even his peers would show more respect than to judge his work a "heap of compost".


message 37: by Mark (new)

Mark That word -- I do not think it means what you think it means. It wasn't "pretentious." I'll happily cop to "scathing," and I don't think I'm compelled to respect writing I think is terrible. Many other people also think it's terrible.


Barbara Genial I completely agree with your assessment, but you stated it better than I. What I didn't get was how he managed to write a story about the entire world being at war and come up with a total yawn?


message 39: by [deleted user] (new)

Mark you are correct. The word I was looking for was presumptuous- "unduly arrogant" (Concise Oxford Dictionary). You are certainly free to dislike any author or work you choose. My problem was I felt you were overly rude in the terminology you used in your critique


message 40: by [deleted user] (new)

PS Book 3 comes out in September in case you are wanting to pre order!


message 41: by Mark (new)

Mark Heather - Thank you. I'm now less confused by your accusation, but I still reject its legitimacy. You appear to be suggesting that, in virtue of his immense popularity (such as is enjoyed, also, by the authors of Twilight and Fifty Shades), Follett is entitled to some godlike exemption from impolite criticism emanating from a mere, inconsequential mortal who hasn't written wildly popular, thousand-page tomes. You are certainly entitled to entertain that view, but I think it's inherently somewhat antidemocratic, in that you accord greater rights to wealthy literary icons than to critics of those icons -- mortals like myself -- who ought more properly to gaze upon them in respectful adoration, and never use the word "compost." Well, okay. I'll just say that, in my judgment, his prose was infelicitous, ungainly, ill-wrought and relentlessly painful to read. Does that adequately address your objection, or do you feel that one ought never to critique a "revered" author harshly, irrespective of the language used? That really *would* have a chilling effect on reviewers, I'm afraid. "Presumptuous" is a word the use of which implies entitlement to reverence on the part of one person, and disempowerment on the part of another. If you think that I'm wrong for not believing that I need to show reverence to people who are "more important," and if that's what you mean by "presumptuous," then I plead guilty.


message 42: by [deleted user] (new)

Wow. You are getting as wordy as Mr. Follett. I think I can simplify my comments for you by saying I found your comments on this book to be unnecessarily rude and therefore offensive- to me. It would not matter which author you were "slamming", your choice of words diminished your credibility, in my opinion.


Barbara Actually, I have to agree that compost is an accurate description. I have been trying to decide what to do with my copy of this ponderous tomb. I do not wish to inflict it on other unsuspecting readers who might attempt to wade through this vastly over-rated book on the assumption that it is on par with Follett's other works, which it most assuredly is not. I'm seriously considering the recycle bin.


message 44: by [deleted user] (new)

I repeat, unnecessarily rude and offensive. Your local library or used book store might be happy to receive your contribution. No one forces anyone to read a book they are not enjoying. Try closing it and putting it away


Barbara What I find rude and offensive is for an author of Mr. Follett's caliber to trade on his cachet to foist a substandard work off onto his loyal, but unsuspecting readership.


message 46: by Mark (new)

Mark Heather - I think you finally characterized my comments accurately. They were "offensive" -- to you. Obviously, you are perfectly entitled to be offended by anything at all, but permit me to suggest that you are not entitled to appoint yourself arbiter of linguistic decorum for the rest of the world.


message 47: by [deleted user] (new)

Didn't realize that was how you saw me but then I guess you are entitled to bequeath whatever titles you choose.....based on a few lines on goodreads. Kind of like it....arbiter of linguistic decorum.....


message 48: by Mark (new)

Mark Heather - I think you mean "bestow" rather than "bequeath" (I'm not dead yet, and I'd have to own the title to "bequeath" it, even metaphorically) -- just as you meant "presumptuous" rather than "pretentious" -- so you might want to work on your grasp of definitions before assuming any mantle of linguistic authority, but I'm willing to give you a pass on all that, strictly as a token of good will. I still can't imagine why anyone would want to embrace a title hitherto enjoyed only by Thomas Bowdler (and not to good advantage), but if you feel you have the right to dictate linguistic manners to other people... well, then, you do. Go forth in peace.


message 49: by [deleted user] (new)

Kind of difficult to go forth in peace after reading your scathing remarks.


message 50: by Mark (new)

Mark I do not wish you ill, Heather. I do wish you'd reconsider whether anyone has the right to criticize someone else's linguistic behavior, now that I've criticized yours. But I don't really believe you'll do that, so "go forth in peace" was my way of saying, "we'll have to agree to disagree, and I won't hold it against you."

It is a little late for you to be assuming a posture of aggrieved innocence, though. Let me remind you that I did not say, out of the blue and unprovoked, "Heather is pretentious." All I did was to criticize Follett. You, on the other hand, decided to call me "pretentious" -- not even knowing what it meant, and I honestly don't know whether that's better or worse. In addition, while then correcting yourself to call me merely "presumptuous" and "unduly arrogant," you assumed the incredibly arrogant position of presuming to have the right to dictate linguistic manners. To me, and then to Barbara. In the matter of "linguistic correctness," you live in a glass house, Heather, and you really ought to refrain from casting rocks. That was my point. I still wish you'd rethink the providence of castigating other members for their use of language, because Thomas Bowdler is not an admirable role model, and nobody should assume the title, "arbiter of linguistic decorum." That said, I really do wish you peace and health, even if I can't change your mind.


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