Sarah's Reviews > The O'Briens

The O'Briens by Peter Behrens
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's review
Mar 19, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: fiction, historical-fiction
Read from April 09 to 17, 2012

A really well done family saga is hard to find and must be hard to write. This one comes close, but in the end misses the mark. With that said, there is still enough here to make some honest recommendations to historical literary fiction readers.
I've been thinking a lot about characters lately and what makes or breaks a character. It isn't that you want to hang out with them, or that you always identify with them. But there has to be enough meat of the character to sympathize with them and find them believable. A well drawn character should carry you away - Mellas from Matterhorn is a great recent example.
Here the characters were too slippery - I craved more of Joe's story especially in the early years but even later his insight is given up to Iseult and his children.
There are good bits here - the birth of the first child at the railroad camp, the brother's experiences in WWI, and the funeral at then end (just for example - it's a long book) are all well written and moving. Overall it just didn't come together in a completely satisfactory way.
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