Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Historian

I admit, that I am not usually a fan of the bestseller. This book only came to my attention because my friend Jen was doing a tandem reading with her friend Lynne. She knows my gothy past, so she gave me a quick plot synopsis. I thought I might read her copy when she was finished. Alas, when I was shopping in Costco, I saw the book for 1/2 price and I picked it up. I started reading that evening and I was hooked.

Now you need to understand that I spend lots of time reading children's and young adult's literature, so whenever I dive into the adult world, it takes a bit longer. Also Kostova did an amazing job weaving fiction and nonfiction together. I found myself underlining places and dates and then going online to do a bit of background reading. (That's the librarian in me!)

The plot starts quickly, which left me a bit worried about being interested for the entire 642 pages, but I was not disappointed. We start with a young woman finding a book containing a bunch of letters that begin, "My dear and unfortunate successor...." The book itself is blank save a woodcut of a dragon in the centre. The book is in her father's study and she asks him about it. Here begins the history told orally and through documents of hunting for Vlad Dracula.

The reader is taken to Istanbul, Budabest, Romania and Bulgaria, as well as Amsterdam and France, Greece and Crete. The descriptions are lush and realistic. The reader truly gets a sense of place and culture through Kostova's words.

My friend told me that the last 50 pages were a big payoff for all the time put into the reading. I have to say, however, that I enjoyed the reading. There was only one section where I had to put it down because my mind felt too full of "facts", and I needed a break. I also could have done with out the epilogue, because when the chapter before it ended, I exclaimed out loud, "Oh my way!". Which in my mind is always a great way to end a book!

Apparently reviews are running either hot or cold. All I can say is that I enjoyed this book tremendously and have been recommending it to my friends.

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