Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss

Catching the Big Wave — or keeping up with the Jones in reading THE HISTORIAN

August 2, 2005

THE HISTORIAN by Elizabeth KostovaEvery year there is a book that is a “must read” either designated by the critics, the media or word of mouth. The book you either do read or must be seen having in your possession. Well, I succumbed and picked up THE HISTORIAN by Elizabeth Kostova. After all, the magazines, the buzz, the hype, it can’t be all bad, can it?

Oh, my! Well, first it is HUGE and hardcover — thus means buying at Costco when I’ve got some spare change or can hide it along with the bottles of wine and salmon — sorry, Costco means wholesale shopping and they were out of fresh flowers so I compensated with the HEAVY book. And after finishing Harry Potter VI, another heavy book meant aching wrists! Sheesh, can’t they make it lighter? Or aren’t you supposed to lounge when reading?

Anyway, I got this big book and it was about a series of historians — thus history, chasing after the theory of Dracula, or Drakula, or some other death defying guy from eastern Europe. By a narrator with NO NAME (shades of Rebecca), and flashbacks with journal entries and lots and lots of history. If you’re a fan of history, this might be the book for you. If you’re a fan of the bloodsucker legends, this might be the book for you. If you’re a fan of 1970s Europe, you might enjoy the rendering of a time slightly gone by. If, on the other hand, any of this bores you to tears, take my advice and don’t spend the bucks, even to be a “fashionable reader.”

Lucky for me, I don’t mind reasonably easy-to-follow flashbacks (convoluted, time tripping ones annoy the heck out of me). The switches from the narrator (she of no name), to the father’s recollections were easy to follow as well. I must give all credit to Kostova. She did an excellent job in keeping me straight on the path to understanding. And the Europe of the 1970s rang true — I lived there from 76 to 81 and visited in 70. And I’ve had a passion for Istanbul since reading Byzantium history. I’d still like to visit, even though I know it must have changed from the times in THE HISTORIAN visits. And even riding the European trains, ah the memories.

As for the story about the death avoiding Impaler, it was, to coin my husband’s favorite luke warm phrase — it was okay.

So there you go, a book that took me two days to read was okay.

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