Sunday, February 28, 2010

10. THE HISTORIAN - Elizabeth Kostova

We have our first thrown book of 2010!

A "packet of letters" (please tell me what this brings to mind - an envelope? A folder?) sends a daughter racing after her father, a historian scholar whose life has become entrapped in the tales of Vlad Tepes, or Dracula. Paul has spent his entire life trying to find his missing wife and mentor, fearful that they are part of Dracula's ever-increasing group of minions.
The story is meant to be written in the Victorian style, but this proved to be elusive and annoying. For example, this "packet" of letters proves to take up half of the 600-page novel. The narrator of the letters (Rossi, the missing mentor) and Paul's letters are written in the same voice.
Don't get me started on the ridiculous coincidences. (SPOILER: the mother throws herself off a cliff, leaves a blood stain on a rock, yet manages to survive by rolling onto a grassy portion?! WTFlippin'Hell?!) I truly believe in the suspension of dis/belief in a novel, but this one pushed me past my boundaries.

Door, meet The Historian, traveling at high velocity.
Lucky for you, it is a good basic story, so you will get to see it in theatres within the next four years. I will stay home with a vodka seven and grind my teeth.
1.0 out of 5.0 Vampires.


Poppy Q said...

How I hated this book. I believe I had two attempts, and seemed to get stuck both times somewhere in the middle where there was a most repetative train ride.

I don't know why it became a bestseller.

Hannah Stoneham said...

I have to admit that I think I got to about chapter 3 and gave up - I was so frustrated by the stereotype of it all - like reading yesterday's newspapers. Maybe I was missing something... anyway, thanks for sharing, enjoyed reading your interesting review, Hannah

Susan said...

I hated this book as well. Oh, and when I think of a packet of letters I think of a pile letters tied together by string.

Kristin Dodge said...

Packet=Susan's definition, at least in most imaginations.

So glad I wasn't the only one rubbing my head and thinking, "What did I miss?"

Also, so glad the friend who recommended it does not read this blog. Eep!

Maggie May said...

i gave up halfway through, bored to tears.

Jinx said...

Oh man...I tried reading this book so many times.
One day I had it in the back seat of my car and my mom sent some chili home with me in a container that wasn't sealed properly. I took a corner too fast and the chili spilled all over the book.
I wasn't terribly upset because then I had a great excuse for not finishing it. However, the chili was delicious so I was bummed about that loss.

Nathan said...

Hmm. I've had this one on my shelf for quite a while and been meaning to read it but never got to it. I picked it up for the subject matter; her notes at the end were some of the same books I used to write my Dracula script, but I gather that this novel is more about a Victorian-era vampire than a Middle Age prince. Too bad.

ally said...

Ah, well its disappointing that you guys found it bad writing. I started reading and couldn't stop for the longest time. I honestly think its inevitable that writers end up sounding the same here and there. She worked hard on it and did alot of research. She wanted to make it perfect so she went to MFA for people to judge her on her work. I think she did a lovely job and thank you guys for your comments for my paper. I really didn't think I would find anyone to oppose.

Cadence said...

I just finished listening to this on CD. I couldn't stand the purple prose. I spent the last chapter counting the times she said "apperently" and "seemed." If I were the editor I would be crossing off all the unecessary comments. "The light shone across the room and I saw what apperently seemed to a table. A moment later I realized it was apperently a sarcophagus, it seemed."

Kristin Dodge said...

Apparently, Cadence, it seems you made me spit Wild Cherry Pepsi apparently all over my computer.