Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherfurd

This is the third novel written by Edward Rutherfurd that I have read. I also read Sarum and London. I will be the first to admit that these historically based sagas are not for everyone. These books are historical fiction and are very long (we're talking 800-900 pages!). Often, the book will begin in the early 1st or 2nd centuries and continue following family lines up through modern times. His characters are fictitious (and also very similar from book to book I am learning) but they are based against actual historic events and individuals. I really liked Sarum which is based in the geographical area around Salisbury and Stone Henge and I also enjoyed London. I enjoy a good book that keeps you hooked for a long time! The Princes of Ireland - which ends in 1500 AD (the sequel takes us into modern Ireland) - got a little tedious with some of the military and political events, but I still enjoyed it. If you like historical fiction and interesting tales of romance, mystery, betrayal and war then you would enjoy these books. Rutherfurd's writing is a little predictable and nothing out of the ordinary but I definitely plan on readying the sequel.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

People of the Book

Written by the same author as Year of Wonders (which I loved), this story follows the fictional journey of the real Sarajevo Haggadah from 14th century Spain to modern-day Sarajevo through a series of clues found in the ancient book's binding. A hair, a splash of water, the wing of an insect - all spark the curiosity of a book restorer, who attempts to put together the story of how this remarkable book survived 500 years of Jewish exile and persecution. It is a fun book to read! The writing is okay - it bugged me that the author didn't really change the voice through the different eras of history, but it was obviously well-researched. I especially liked the idea that people of Muslim, Jew & Christian faiths all had a hand in the miracle of the book's survival -- "there were people who could see that what united us was more than what divided us."

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Little Britches by Ralph Moody

My Grandma recommended I read this book, and now I second her recommendation, and will tell you basically what she told me.  This certainly isn't fine literature, or deep material, but it is a good story and I loved the relationship between the young son, Ralph, and his Father.  It is the story of the authors childhood.  His family, for health reasons, left New England and made a go at a life as ranchers outside of Denver in the early 20th century.  Ralph is in love with his new cowboy life and gets into lots of mischief, but is always guided by his fathers wisdom, love, and goodness.  The writing is somewhat abrupt and not terribly refined, but the story and narration kept me going. I enjoyed the book and look forward to reading the sequels.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

John Adams by David McCullough

This is an amazing book, which I think should be required reading for anyone who claims American citizenship.  John Adams was an eyewitness and participant in the founding of our country and this book is taken from his letters to his wife Abigail, and her letters to him.  It is a wonderful read and you will have a serious appreciation for John Adams and the other founding fathers after reading this book.  Fascinating.  (I believe they just made an HBO series based on this book.  I'd love to see it).