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The road to Wellville

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3.66  ·  Rating details ·  5,268 Ratings  ·  361 Reviews
It began at a place modestly described as the healthiest on the planet: the Battle Creek Sanitarium, home of Dr John Harvey Kellogg – best-selling health writer, first guru of bran and grunt, the Santa Claus of the digestive tract. And yes – of course! – he invented the cornflake, but it was only a tiny element in a veritable encyclopedia of historically comparable yum-yum ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 476 pages
Published 1994 by Granta Books/Penguin Books (first published 1993)
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Alexandra
Das ist definitiv der schlechteste oder zweitschlechteste Boyle, den ich jemals gelesen habe. Von den 620 Seiten kann man mindestens 300 ungeschaut in den Mistkübel werfen, vielleicht wäre es sowieso besser gewesen, T.C. hätte gleich auf Seite 280 aufgehört, diesen Roman zu schreiben. Seit dem Moralkapitel und dem ersten Live-Toten im Strombad mit seinen Konzequenzen war die Story so zäh, als wäre ich mit klatschnassen schweren medizinischen Fußwickeln durch Maissirup gewatet.

Die beiden Erzähls
...more
Donna  Napier
Jul 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
TC Boyle is one of my favorite authors because I simply fall in love with his sentences. The man writes such incredible sentences! The Road to Wellville is a captivating story, too, so between the brilliant sentence structure and the fascinating story line, I was spellbound until the ending. Unfortunately, like other TC Boyle novels I've read, the ending missed the mark for me. It seems that Boyle paints himself into a corner and then just decides that the only way out is to walk back across the ...more
Carla Remy
A very interesting story of the hilarious Edwardian Patent Medication Situation, Sanitariums and the Breakfast Food Bubble with its Cereal Profiteers, set in 1907 at the Kelllogg Health Spa in Battle Creek, Michigan. Based on real life history. But I am unable to fully say I enjoyed this. Because I can not understand why this book is so long (Penguin paperback 476 pages). Not that much happens and it doesn't span that much time. I would remove at least a third. There is a good book in there.
Rob
Sep 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before, but I'd be hard-pressed to name another author who so effectively combines humor with dread. In every book by T.C. Boyle – this one included – I cringe as I read because I know some horrible reckoning will befall most of the main characters, but the journey to that reckoning is so frequently punctuated with humor and absurdity that I feel terrible enjoying these characters' downfalls so damn much.

Like so many of Boyle's other books, The Road to Wellvil
...more
Joseph D'Lacey
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My judgement is utterly coloured by that fact that I saw the film adaptation first and adored it.

There was never any chance that the novel could live up to the memories I already had in my mind's eye when reading it. So, for me at least, this is one of those very rare occasions upon which the film gets five stars, the book only four.

T. C. Boyle is an accomplished and skilful novelist, whose ability to make the past seem real and immediate is extraordinary. However, in terms of pace, Alan Parker
...more
Armin Hennig
Eigentlich zweieinhalb, aber ich habe so meine Gründe diesen literarischen Hochstapler ein wenig abzuwerten. Alles weitere später.
JTT
Aug 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Done to a turn, like a Porterhouse steak, grilled to a perfect medium rare. Or should I say: "like a Protose Pattie perfectly congealed." This is an excellent, well-written, funny novel about Kellogg and Battle Creek in its heyday. An incredible amount of research must have been undertaken in order to craft such a classic piece of American fiction. I don't know how TC Boyle does it. Like his book on the Kinseys, he writes with so much confidence and factual detail you'd think he'd lived in these ...more
Aurora
Sep 21, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those hard to rate books. It's funny and the subject and time period are surprising and compelling to me. But after a certain point, the story just stops moving forward. To stereotype wildly, this seems to happen to me often with modern fiction- I like the characters and the story, but somewhere in the middle things just start to amble, and the thing ends up being 400 pages for no good reason.

Historical fiction is so weird, anyway. Somewhere in the middle of this, I thought "why
...more
Johnny
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Remembering the failed movie based on The Road to Wellville (that I didn’t see until it was on television and, even then, it was sliced up for broadcast television (Remember? Before streaming and broadband capabilities? You had to wait until someone put the film on the air.)), I don’t know quite how it failed with the fabulous casting. Bridgett Fonda was the perfect image of the beautiful, wealthy, self-indulgent, and slightly frigid spouse of Matthew Broderick as the frustrated husband trying t ...more
Chance Lee
Aug 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Road to Wellville is an at-times fascinating, at-times dull historical fiction about John Harvey Kellogg and his cult-like following of health nuts at the turn of the century. The fascinating parts are really fascinating and the dull parts are, thankfully, not that dull, thanks to T.C. Boyle's expertise with the English language. If thinks had moved along at a brisker pace, it would have held my attention better.

This is billed as a comic novel, but maybe the long passages made me too drowsy
...more
Pete
Feb 12, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars, really, but goodreads' war on subtlety continues. as a stylistic exercise this is a triumph. as an actual novel, something south of there, although not like antarctica south. very much in the vein of new yorker humor articles -- where my response is "ah, i see this person is making a joke" as opposed to actually laughing or feeling amused. there were a few exceptions: the repetition of "womb manipulation" toward the end gets pretty funny. but a lot of the other stuff really felt formu ...more
Liz
Jan 22, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
You expect a certain amount of snarkiness from Boyle, and Wellville doesn't dissapoint, but I found no glee in it, as I did in Drop City, or Budding Prospects, or even Water Music. I kept thinking what a marvelous writer he is, yet how unfortunate his choice of stories and characters are. I get it that Kellog's sanitarium and its regimens were for the turn of the century's health nuts, and that many of its practices were misguided and downright dangerous in some cases. I get that there were huck ...more
David DeValera
Feb 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Road to Wellville is a story of people in search of Organic Grace. Dr. Kellogg's followers believe they suffer from the visceral accumulation of toxic sludge brought on by years of improper diet. Since the rigors of eating were never mastered better than by the great Cleansed Colon himself, Dr. Kellogg, they follow his every command. They scour their colons, blast out their bowels, purge their way to purity--yet, despite the daily intrusions to their lower orifices', they still end up diggin ...more
Kirby
Oct 12, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Yuck. It is rare that I abandon a book, but 100 pages into this, I couldn't force myself to read 400 more. I love T.C. Boyle but this sort of repulsed me and I hated it. Too much on bowels/colon activity, and everyone in the book seems a little gross for some reason. Just not enjoying it in general. I'm out.
Kayla Roth
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(If 4.5 rating were possible)

I started reading this book in California upon recommendation from a friend knowing nothing about it and quickly got pulled into the narrative. Then I borrowed it and left it on a plane. I rarely pick up fiction, but from winter to summer the near 500 pages begged me to finish them. The story dragged on a bit (with weird twists) near the end. Overall, the characters and their different perspectives were entertaining and the book is well-written.

It's historical fict
...more
Rauf
Jan 08, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who think organic foods are so edgy
Shelves: fiction, 2010-list, 3-5
1907.
Battle Creek, Michigan.

The American bourgeois were lining up to get top treatments for their sick, frail bodies at the Sanatorium. Most of them suffered the same ailment: their colons were shot to hell. The man in charge (and who could save them) was Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. Surgeon, inventor, author, cap'n of industry. His methods were simple but very challenging.
Stop eating meat, stop drinking, stop smoking. Don't worry. The menu in the San living room would make you want to forget those
...more
Ian Mapp
Oct 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You have to admire TC Boyle, this is the forth book (after Drop City, Tortilla Curtain and Inner Circle) of his that i have read and they are all different, with different themes and time frames.

This is comedy gold and tells the story of the Kellog family, superbly played by Anthony Hopkins in the film adaptaion.

He runs a sanitarioum in 19th Century smallsville america with some bizarre treatments - mostly based around the bowell and the avoidance of meat, coffee and drink.

Three seperate strorie
...more
Lynn G.
This book is probably a 3.5* rather than a three. An interesting, fictional look at the empire that J.H. Kellogg built around "physiologic" living and an amazing number of enemas; yes, enemas. His highly regarded Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, or "San" as it was popularly called, hosted thousands of "patients" over the years. All of them wealthy, many famous, and all apparently suffering from such complaints as autointoxication, neurasthenia, and, worst of all, the eating of meat. Kellogg ...more
Marie Kelleher
Dec 30, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
You know, I've given T.C. Boyle a couple of tries now. In both cases (the other was Drop City, which I liked slightly better), I found myself vaguely interested and vaguely irritated, in equal measure. In both cases, he gives us a utopian experiment pulled down by the most banal of human flaws (which, I suppose, is the real tragedy: at our worst, we're not so much "evil" or even "bad" as we are distressingly petty and self-involved). In each, he draws his characters with some depth, but you can' ...more
Daniel Taylor
May 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
TC Boyle has taken the historical figure John Harvey Kellogg who founded a bizarre health spa and invented cornflakes and has created an intelligent novel set at the spa.

Eleanor Lightbody has been to the spa twice before and, like all well-meaning wives, has decided her husband, Will, will benefit from Kellogg's health miracles. Kellogg is written as authoritarian monomaniac with grandiose delusions about his power over his patients' lives.

The satirical read is entertaining, intelligent and fun
...more
David
Feb 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like Boyle's writing, perhaps even more in this one than others, but like some of his other historical based works, it seemed like most of the action was a foregone conclusion from the beginning. It was interesting and rich in detail, but it could have been a fourth the length and only missed out on the amount of detail the reader got to see. The same things would have happened to the characters, the same things that were expected from the beginning. I suppose it was more to sketch out Kellogg ...more
Tania
Jun 11, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It started great, wonderful premise and colourful writing. But then it just went on and on without actually going anywhere. (Needed a bit of roughage to move things through. Or at least a good edit to cut to the chase.) I persevered but by midway it set me on the road to Snoozeville. Finally gave up and didn't finish. I'd recommend Boyle's terrific Talk Talk instead, or the Inner Circle.

I haven't seen the movie, would be interested to see how/if the film snapped it into shape.
Lizzy
Jul 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
TC Boyle is Brilliant as always. What I found most fascinating about this novel is it examined the beginnings of the health food movement... a crazy doctor semonizing on a specific diet and way of life and the people who follow him like sheep. It made me think about today's health craze...the things that I believe to be very healthy but in 100 years may be considered misinformed. What also interested me were the things Dr. Kellogg said were healthy, and thinking to today, what aspects of a healt ...more
rachel
May 07, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Truly, I didn't think it was possible that a book would ever have too much scatological humor for me to enjoy. But I just couldn't get into my first TC Boyle read. Maybe if I'd been emotionally engaged in either loving or hating the characters getting enemas? But nothing compelled me to read past page 100. And my friends, there are too many books and too little time to spend reading something that doesn't move you in one way or another.
Jen
Sep 14, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The librarian recommended this book, as he likes the author. I did enjoy the book. A lot of the story was based on loose facts. It is fun to see how people would go to extremes to be healthy back in the days before liposuction, botox and plastic surgery. It was an interesting read and I hear there is a movie based off of this book, which I am looking forward to seeing.
Barbara
Jul 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a 4.5 book for sure. T.C. Boyle can write exceptionally well and his characters are incredible. I am fascinated with the Kellogg sanitarium and wonder just how much of this is based on truths. Time to research.
Johanna Moran
Jul 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this years ago and loved it. But then I love Boyle's dark sardonic style. I'll have to read it again and give it a proper review.
Stephan
One of the best comic novels of the late 20th century. The language is beautiful and precise, the characterizations rich and varied, the story a wild ride into the American stomach.
Jess Faraday
Jul 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As always--unforgettable characters, whizz-bang storytelling, and gorgeous, lush prose. Also? Makes today's dietary faddists look downright sane by comparison =)
Jacko Cabrera
Aburrimiento. Esa es la primera palabra que viene a mi cabeza cuando pienso en escribir mi impresión personal tras leer El balneario de Battle Creek. En mi opinión, es una novela con pretensiones de comicidad y sarcasmo que no alcanza en ningún momento, pese a que el lector espera que todo fluya hacía la carcajada salvaje, el autor sólo consigue que Morfeo se apodere de uno y caiga en un profundo sueño reparador. Para eso es para lo que me ha valido, para ayudarme a dormir. No crean que no he in ...more
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Around the Year i...: The Road to Wellville, by T.C. Boyle 1 9 Oct 21, 2017 01:35PM  
History, Medicine...: turn of the century sanatoriums 2 32 Oct 20, 2011 02:39PM  
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T. Coraghessan Boyle (also known as T.C. Boyle, born Thomas John Boyle on December 2, 1948) is a U.S. novelist and short story writer. Since the late 1970s, he has published eleven novels and more than 60 short stories. He won the PEN/Faulkner award in 1988 for his third novel, World's End, which recounts 300 years in upstate New York. He is married with three children. Boyle has been a Distinguis ...more
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