Monthly Archives: June 2016

The Historian

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova is told from multiple perspectives moving back and forth between a period of fifty or so years. There are three point of view characters. The first character is a sixteen-year-old girl who discovers her father’s dirty little secret in his research as a historian. Her father, Paul, has a fascination with Dracula that he has kept hidden from much of the rest of the world. This fascination was passed down to him from his mentor in college, Prof. Rossi. The story moves between the views of Rossi, Paul, and Paul’s daughter as each decides to continue the previous’ research on the historical figure of Vlad the Impaler and the legend of Dracula to see just how connected the two figures really are, and to discover if there is any truth to the legends.

This is a book a got years ago (when it first came out) but never got around to reading until just recently. When the book first came out, my aunt asked me if I had read it. When I said, no, but it was on my list, she wrinkled her nose and informed me it wasn’t very good. When I finally got around to reading this book, the whole time all I could think was, what was my aunt talking about? I went through 875 pages thinking, this is a pretty good story! And then I got to the final 35 pages.

In all honesty, it doesn’t matter how good the first thousand pages of a story are. If the ending is unsatisfying, the book is unsatisfying because the ending is what people are going to remember. By the I had finished reading those last 35 pages, I was so mad that I had to fight back the urge to throw the book across the room. Do you know how long it takes (me, at least) to read 900 pages? The answer is too long to be met with such a dissatisfying resolution by the end of it.

The climactic moment, completely anti-climactic.

Character growth, completely flat.

Sense of job well done, completely lacking.

When I got to the big moment of confrontation at the end of the story, I was left with the immediate reaction of, that was it!?! Taking the time to read such a book to be left with so little at the end was a complete waste of time.

I hate writing negative reviews because I feel like most stories always have something positive to offer, but sometimes, there’s just no getting around it. 😦

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The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde has always been one of my favorite writers. I think he is extremely clever in his writing. When I was in high school, I tried reading his novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, but about halfway through, it became very difficult and I never finished it. A while back, I decided to give it another try.

For those who don’t know the basic story line of this book, it is a story about a young man who has a portrait made of him. The portrait is very beautiful, and Dorian in his vanity, wishes that the portrait could age instead of him. And so it does. Not only does it age while Dorian stays young, but it also carries the weight of the sins he commits in his life while his own face stays young and innocent.

As I was rereading The Picture of Dorian Gray, I was so caught up in the story that I thought to myself, “What was wrong with me when I was younger that I couldn’t get through this?” The story was compelling, witty, and easy to read.

And then I got to the halfway point. This was the spot where I had given up on my last read through, and now I understood why. In the middle of this book is a chapter that works as a transition from the first half of the story to the second half. There is a bunch of summary about what Dorian has been doing during the years in between the two sections of the story, and there is a lot of self-reflection on Dorian’s part. And, well, it’s boring. And long.

However, it is only one chapter. If the reader can make it through that bit, then the story picks back up and the second half of the novel is just as compelling as the first.

I am glad I made it through to this end when I read The Picture of Dorian Gray this time. The final scene in the book really is a great one.

Overall, this book is worth the read, especially if you are a fan of Wilde’s style. When you reach the boring bit, just push through. Once the story picks back up, you will find it worthwhile.

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