Monday, October 14, 2013

The Historian Readalong Wrap-Up!


DONE! And did I mention...DONE DONE DONE?! As much as I enjoyed portions of this book, I got bogged down from the middle to the end. It could be that I was reading the book in smallish snatches while putting my kiddo to bed and before I laid my own self down. But methinks the bigger issue for me was the structure. 

I do appreciate that the story within a story within a story within a story (you get the picture), added to the suspense. However, I continue to feel that it was not terribly realistic, and it was more conducive to "telling" than "showing." I like to be shown the details of a book through the narrative, rather than dealing with these long info dumps through letters. 

Also, details much? How many cups of coffee were there? How many descriptions of Helen's hair and wardrobe? I love detail and it can bring a novel to life, but in this case I got overwhelmed by the repetitive nature of it and by the political goings-on of Eastern Bloc countries that I am clueless about. I also had trouble getting a handle on all of the time shifts between these "generations" of letters. Again, I think if these details had been contextualized rather than dumped via letters I would've become more accustomed to them and appreciated them more. 

Dracula was pretty badass, but I wanted more of him. A BookTuber mentioned that if the book had been called The Librarian, it would've been MUCH shorter. True dat! I think the editor could've easily shaved 300 pages off of this book, and I would've enjoyed it more. The ending seriously made the book, but I wish that kind of heart-poundingness had taken a more prevalent place throughout. 

Did I dislike this book? No! Don't get that idea. But for me, it was just average. 3 of 5 stars on Goodreads.

Read all of the readalong reactions at The Estella Society.  

Pub. Date: September 2009
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Format: E-Book
ISBN: 9780316070638
Source: Bought it!


11 comments:

  1. I'm beginning to think that most "big" books could be edited and improved upon. I'm not sure this book is for me.

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    1. LOL, I think you may be right!

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  2. First of all, CONGRATULATIONS on finishing!! I had a similar reaction to the length of the book - I read this on my kindle and around page 500 or so there was a pretty lengthy "primary document" that I zoomed right past. It took a two full weeks of dedicated reading time for me to finish this novel which is a snail's pace for me. However, I do have to congratulate Kostova for the amount of research and detail that went in to writing this book. She had every angle covered, in my opinion, although I am very unknowledgeable of the political, geographical and cultural structure of a majority of the countries Paul and Helen traveled to. The suspense at the end of the book did pick up the overall experience but I think all of the story lines ended pretty predictably,

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    1. Thank you! It took me 2 weeks as well. I'm definitely fond of the research she did and the hard work it must've taken to write this novel. Just not my cup. Well, it was an ok cup of tea, but it wasn't a nosehair grabbin' book. lol

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  3. It's been so long since I read this, I hardly remember if I got bogged down. I do remember it being quite long. Actually, since y'all were reading this, I decided to get my Dracula on for the first time. It was interesting having read this first!

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    1. I'm still getting my Dracula on, too! It's slow going as well. Had to pick up something shorter/quicker to read along with it.

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  4. I agree with you about the bogging down and the info dumps, but they pretty much killed this one for me--I put it down about 3/4 through in April 2007 and just finished it this year. Glad you liked it better than I did!

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    1. Wow! That's dedication to go back and finish it! I don't know that I would've.

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  5. I agree! The letters within letters were disrupting to me too. I was annoyed by the length of these letters from Paul to his daughter that he had to write fast and yet there were way too many details for this to be plausible!

    So great review!

    It was still such a unique experience for me so I took out of it what I could but I don't think I'll reread this one ever.

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    1. Exactly! I just didn't find those letters believable at all. Oy! Definitely a unique reading experience, but I won't be diving back into this book either. :)

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  6. I quite enjoyed this book, but I have to admit that I was a bit clueless about the cultural norms in Eastern Bloc Europe during Helen's time. We saw plenty of snatches of it, and experienced the confusion of Helen's American man, but I could have used a bit more explaining.

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