DeLaina's Reviews > The Pillars of the Earth

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
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Jul 25, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: adult
Read in August, 2008

I devour books. That is my euphemism for being so OCD that I can't put it down and live my life until I finish it. For shorter books, that's generally not a problem, but for the 974 page Pillars of the Earth...well, let's just say we ran out of food, my children clung to my legs asking for food, and the floors did not get vacuumed for a good five days while I whittled away at this book.

CLIFF HANGER: This book is not a cliff-hanger at the end of every chapter kind of book, which makes it easier to read it in multiple sittings. However, Follett does such a masterful job of character development, that I found myself wanting to know what was going to happen next whether the end of the chapter contained a cliffhanger ending or not.

CHARACTER DEV'T: Each character is so beautifully defined and fleshed out, that they become almost real. I felt that I knew them personally, that I could accurately predict how they would react in different situations. None of them were 100% good or bad, just like in real life. Some priests were holy, others evil; some were rich people with big hearts, others with small minds and evil intentions; some poor farmers were judgmental, w/narrow-minded attitudes, others opened their doors to strangers.

PLOT/PACE: Foreshadowing was a very powerful convention that Follett skillfully weaved in and out of every chapter. It gave subtle hints, but never so overt as to suggest that the reader may be an imbecile. Backstories meander and come to closure at such a nice pace, that it always feels like something is happening and things are being resolved, for better or for worse.

THEMES: My favorite theme was that natural consequences followed the actions of the characters. (I'm still a bit out of sorts after reading the deus ex machina riddled Breaking Dawn, where all the natural consequences of three books worth of actions were completely erased-ugh.) There was a natural ebb and flow of triumph and misfortunes in Pillars of the Earth. Good things happened to bad people and bad things happened to good people, just like in real life. Follett does not try to save his characters from themselves, or from each other, and I enjoyed that very much.

STRONG WOMEN: I absolutely adored the strong women in this book! What a joy to read about Aliena, carving out her own future after her world had been turned upside down! Life knocked her down plenty, but each time, she got up, made a plan, and triumphed eventually. Ellen, and Agnes in her own way, were also strong women.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: As strange as it sounds, with all of the despair and misery that took place, the overarching take home for me, was HOPE. In the face of overwhelming adversity, these characters triumphed. The road was hard and the journey was long, but they CHOSE hope. They CHOSE faith. And in the end, that was all that mattered.

Pillars of the Earth will be on my favorite books list for a very long time.
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01/31 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-48 of 48) (48 new)

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message 1: by Gwendolyn (new) - added it

Gwendolyn Wow, what an incredible review! I will have to add this to my list to read. Never have 974 pages sounded so worth it!


message 2: by Robin (new)

Robin I am so in agreement with you! I have the one I bought in the 80s which I purchaswed after having read an except in Cosmopolitan magazine (it was ghe 80's!).

The sequel, World Without End, is more of the same, but if you can believe this --- BETTER! how does he do it?

Follett also creates some incredible realities in his other writings, one about slavery and freedom in the early United States, and others in more contemporary action genres.

So glad you read this Delaina, another point of rhetoric to share.

R


message 3: by DeLaina (new) - added it

DeLaina R

My mom gave me the sequel last night and I have been afraid to open it-partially b/c my kids and house are still recovering from my inattentiveness last week, and partially b/c I didn't want to be let down.

I appreciate knowing your thoughts on it, and as soon as the mountain of laundry in my family room has been put away, and I am caught up w/the business stuff, and DYC, and etc. etc. etc. I will begin my next epic journey into medieval times, grace a M. Follett.

D


message 4: by Robin (new)

Robin I know I am so the same way. Like the world has to go AWAY 'til we get these books read!

It will be worth the wait. Good luck with the mountain and such.

;-)


Jessie I completely agree!


message 6: by Robin (new)

Robin Dont forget the sequel 200 years later, World Without End.

Follet also has written a few other historical pieces such as

A Place Called Freedom which ended all too soon!


Diane So natural consequences followed the actions of the characters, huh? Sort of sounds like "you reap what you sow." Now where have I heard that before? Have fun with the second book! I've read a lot of Follett's other stuff and I really liked some of them and others were quite mediocre, but he nailed it with these 2 for sure.


message 8: by Travis (new) - added it

Travis DeLaina. My friend recommended this book so I looked up a few reviews and happened upon yours--which is terrifc. Very informative. I love people who take the time to write decent reviews (and are well-read and intelligent enough to write good ones). Thank you.

As (inadequate) payback I'll recommend to you Ross King's "Brunelleschi's Dome," which is a non-fiction (though fascinating) account of how Brunelleschi designed and built the famous dome of the Florence Cathedral.


message 9: by Cydnie (new) - added it

Cydnie Wonderfully written review. I love when the reviewer can articulate exactly what they liked and disliked about a book, rather than, "I really liked it", or, "I really hated it". Thank you for helping me to decide to go ahead and attempt the 974 pages!


Kendra Baldovino I just finished Pillars for the second time. Loved it this time just as much as when I read it years ago. I didn't realize the was a second book and will seek it out on Amazon. Thanks to all for bringing it to my attention. I agree Delaine writes a marvelous review. Tank you


message 11: by Martin (new)

Martin Stetz What a wonderfully written review! I'm just about finished with the book and I've enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to taking on "World Without End", but I might read a few shorter books from my to-be-read list first.


message 12: by DeLaina (new) - added it

DeLaina Diane wrote: "So natural consequences followed the actions of the characters, huh? Sort of sounds like "you reap what you sow." Now where have I heard that before? Have fun with the second book! I've read a lot ..."

Some lady who may or may not be my mother etched that into the very souls of each of her children. Thanks, mom!


message 13: by DeLaina (new) - added it

DeLaina Rachel wrote: "Delaina, I so appreciate your reviews. Your talented ability of the skillful art of writing are appreciated. Thanks for keeping me on your list of friends. Even though I don't have time to read muc..."

Clearly it has been a while, and by "a while" I mean over 18 months since I have checked this review. Thanks for your nice comments! Did you ever end up reading it?


message 14: by DeLaina (new) - added it

DeLaina Travis wrote: "DeLaina. My friend recommended this book so I looked up a few reviews and happened upon yours--which is terrifc. Very informative. I love people who take the time to write decent reviews (and are..."

I was looking for a new book to read over the weekend and appreciate your suggestion very much! My mom is a Humanities professor and during my childhood names like Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, Monet etc. were tossed around like penny candy.

The Agony and The Ecstasy is another similarly fascinating read, if you haven't read that one yet.

Happy Thanksgiving!


message 15: by DeLaina (new) - added it

DeLaina Cydnie wrote: "Wonderfully written review. I love when the reviewer can articulate exactly what they liked and disliked about a book, rather than, "I really liked it", or, "I really hated it". Thank you for hel..."

Thanks for the feedback on the review! Let me know how you liked it. I noticed on the community reviews that readers either love it or hate it, very few are lukewarm.


message 16: by DeLaina (new) - added it

DeLaina Kendra wrote: "I just finished Pillars for the second time. Loved it this time just as much as when I read it years ago. I didn't realize the was a second book and will seek it out on Amazon. Thanks to all for..."

I liked the sequel a lot too and I think there may be a third book, at least I caught a glimpse of something very Pillar-ish looking in a bookstore in Barcelona a couple of weeks ago but didn't have time to investigate properly.


message 17: by DeLaina (last edited Nov 25, 2010 12:25AM) (new) - added it

DeLaina Martin wrote: "What a wonderfully written review! I'm just about finished with the book and I've enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to taking on "World Without End", but I might read a few shorter books from my to-b..."

Thanks very much! Worlds Without End was also good, but not quite a five-star masterpiece. I gave it four stars, though.


message 18: by Jackie (new) - added it

Jackie This review in amazing! I love the beginning, that just makes me want to read it. I devour books myself and its nice to know that this one is worth it. Thanks for the amazing review!


JudyG Jackie, I couldn't have said it better...I really enjoyed this book !


Annetta Stanley very good review.


message 21: by Angi (new) - rated it 3 stars

Angi LOL! @ '...my children clung to my legs asking for food...' I get the same way while into a good book. I am opening this book as soon as I hit enter on this post!


message 22: by DeLaina (new) - added it

DeLaina Angi-let me know how you like it, even if it is punctuated by children whining for food...


Kevin I agree it is a very comprehensive review of Pillars of Earth. What I enjoyed about the book was after reading a couple of hundred pages I felt like I was transported to Kingbridge England and walking among the people.

Follett is a terrific story teller! I always look forward to his new releases!


KiKi Thank you for such a Great Review !!!! I will be starting the book tonight and I’m very excited about it.


Lazidasey Delaina you are Halarious!!!! I read this book and I feel the same as you. I didn't eat or sleep until it was over. When I finished the last page I was exhausted! Thanks for the wonderful review. I'm still looking for another book that Can compare. I did read the sequel and it was just ok in comparison.


message 26: by DeLaina (new) - added it

DeLaina Lazidasey wrote: "Delaina you are Halarious!!!! I read this book and I feel the same as you. I didn't eat or sleep until it was over. When I finished the last page I was exhausted! Thanks for the wonderful review...."

I agree. The sequel was good but just not as engaging as the first.


message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm glad there's a popular reviewer who actually LIKED the novel.


Laura Rosa-miller Such a relatable Review you hit it right on the nail . I still think about the characters they felt so real .


message 29: by Laura (new)

Laura I absolutely loved this book and it is my number one recommendation to anyone that is looking for a great read....something to get lost in. The characters, the plot, the story....everything about this book is wonderful. I made the mistake of bringing it to a conference and had to sneak away to my room during breaks because I was so obsessed (not going to lie...I even missed a few sessions bc I could not put it down!)


Donna Maybe I should stock up on food


Guendanadxi Wooow!! Great review!! :D


message 32: by Lou (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lou after reading Pillars I found your review. I enjoy reading about other's impressions " after" I finish a book. and your piece was perfect for me. thank you. you ably put into a concise form an accurate review of what I found to be the reasons that I enjoyed this book. I will now follow your reviews. Now my personal funny on it: shortly after I to started to read Pillars my wife became very interested and took out a second copy from the library and we read it together simultaneously making sure we didn't get too far ahead or behind. for two weeks we shared the love, hate, intrigue etc. we discussed history, looked up kings and popes, googled towns and cathedrals and for two weeks ( our kids are grown and out of the home now ) managed devote our free time to discussing this book. it was that good...for us. after 35 years of marriage we still had some new things to talk about from this book. I will now share your review with her to make sure that the enjoyment continues. thanks for adding to our continuing enjoyment of this book.


message 33: by Dan (new) - added it

Dan Campbell Totally agree. This is without question the best book I have ever read. The other books in the trilogy are very good, but THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH was the very best.


message 34: by Erika (new) - added it

Erika Beautifully said! After reading your review, I'm definitely bound to reading this book.


message 35: by Edward (new)

Edward Ball Awesome!!! Love the way you put things. Kudos on your review. Have you read any Pat Conroy? Good stuff.... Try "Beach Music", you'll love it. Anyways, have a good read and a good night.


Shari What a wonderful review. Said all the things I was thinking but i didn't have the literary background to say.


Allen Crowe Pillars of year has to be one of my favorite books, I read it during one of the hardest times of my life and it got me through . It was moving, drew me in, made me almost feel there, a part of it all... and that is no small feat! For me it is now a favorite and a must re-read!


Danielle Awesome review! I love hos books but Pillars of the Earth was my first and my favorite. Also loved the sequel.


Bernie This was such a nice and very informative review. I have been contemplating for a long time if I am going to read this or not. Now that I read your review and others who commented on it, I am going to get me a copy. Thank you!


Giovanna oh my god,it took me five days to read this book too, and I barely ate. But it was worth it, I loved it.


Charmaine Cotton Excellent review. I couldn't have said it better myself. My exact thoughts.


Lilia Stephens Well said! This book was. Riveting and sad and amazing!


Marina Mark I loved the book although i hated Aliena from the begining..


message 44: by Siddharth (new)

Siddharth Jain Very nice review .. Analysing it under the skin .. :-)

But (with one brow raised), did you actually read it in five days ??!!?? :P


Derrick A Olson I have owned this book for some time and have never picked it up. After reading your review I will have trouble not picking it up.


Ramanathan Nk p

jypp


Shane I agree with your review because you made points that I overlooked that made this novel a great one. First off, this book had great character development. I was attached to many of the characters presented, because they were written as if they were real people. That was probably my favorite part of the book. Another point you made was about the theme of consequences, which was a fair thing to talk about because this book was all about issues that the characters had to solve, and in solving their problems they created new ones. None of those problems were improbable or unrealistic though, they were all believable.


Extraordinary Pages Does the book have any explicit scenes?


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