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So well-written but just nostalgic to a fault. So much time wasted on reflection that leads no where and this perfect ideal of the world before WWI, aSo well-written but just nostalgic to a fault. So much time wasted on reflection that leads no where and this perfect ideal of the world before WWI, as if all humanity was innocent and childish and sexless and all the world at peace until 1915....more
**spoiler alert** In short: a brilliant and emotional novel that carries itself through hundreds of years of history so perfectly and so beautifully a**spoiler alert** In short: a brilliant and emotional novel that carries itself through hundreds of years of history so perfectly and so beautifully as to astound. Its ambition is absolutely incredible: imperialism, slave trade in Africa, slave life in America, tribal wars, chain gangs, missionaries, racial profiling, interracial relationships, jazz, heroin in Harlem. I'm missing more than one. All this and it's still readable, still believable, still effective and powerful.
My only complaint to start was that there were so many characters from chapter to chapter that it was difficult to keep track of who was related to whom and how, though as their relationships grew irrelevant as generations passed, this didn't bother me so much and the limited number of characters in later chapters was helpful.
Though I was very much impressed by the novel's entirety I wish the ending was a bit more satisfying. I wish it wasn't so self-referencing--the Stanford characters are remarkably like Gyasi and Marcus's research may as well refer to the book itself as his thesis. I'm just over the whole Pomo-Meta thing. It's begun to feel more clever than creative. Joyce was doing this a hundred years ago.
I didn't know if there was supposed to be an implied romance between Marjorie and Marcus, and their being male and female instead of two females as the earlier visions/premonitions (the fire woman, for example) would have implied was a little off-putting. I didn't understand in the closing scene what "where the fire met the water" (not an exact quote) could mean or where Marcus was meant to be standing, or why Marjorie would give away the stone as directed not to. Yes, it's meaningful and all because it is also Marcus's, BUT:
Here we're finally back at the castle where the stone's sister was buried in the dungeon and yet it still never came up? No one ever found it? Yes, it would have been unlikely and yes, especially so if Marcus were the one to do it, but its having been buried and then never mentioned again just violates Chekov's gun principle--it's a broken promise. What was the point in having sister stones, then? And where did the stones ever even come from to begin with? Why were there two, especially if the second one was never going to matter again? The stone(s) as a family heirloom overall ends up feeling somewhat cheap and even unnecessary to the story. ...more