Bookshelf #2

with Nincs hozzászólás

Another couple of recent mini-reviews I recently wrote at goodreads. The previous one containing All the light we cannot see, The Nightingale and A memory of violets can be found here.

This was yet another book when I got caught in time-travel, ships, historical fiction stuff… and overlooked the young adult genre. I was extremely annoyed by the flat and knowing-all-but-still-quite-stupid-and-naive main character Nix (I even had to think a while about what was her name again…), and her father, Slate, who has no strong trait of character, which is quite a problem if you are supposed to be a strong-charactered captain, if you ask me. The reason I suffered it through was the only character that rang true and it was Kashmir, he was literally stealing pages from under my fingertips: and still it was a long read. Not-so-perfectly written, hardly likeable characters (except for that cheeky Persian thief), and plot like overcooked spaghetti, which seems just fine but when you put it in mouth it’s just too soft and tasteless. Still 1,5/2 stars – for Kashmir and historical research.

Let me review both parts together, because I read them one after another and despite being about 2000 pages all together, it was an exciting lecture. The Pillars of the Earth or the first part took me… one day. It was a whole Sunday, but just one. Maybe if I say that 1000 pages about building a cathedral and another 1000 about building a bridge it won’t sound too exciting, but well, exciting it is. The historical research is impressive, but it does not give an impression of a dull historical book. It just supports a fantastic story spread through centuries, and gives a believable background to genuine, very human characters of all kinds: good and bad, beautiful and ugly, smart and stupid. In Pillars of the Earth I enjoyed the characters of Tom and Jack most, both men of a kind you won’t really meet nowadays, very different, but each one true and strong. In World without End my favourite was Petranilla with her wicked ideas and strategies and Thomas, the knight-monk. Both books feature some romances as well (especially the second one), but this is not the part that make the story go ahead. The eternal fight for power, for the good of the cathedral town, for money and for principles, woven with dramas of the ordinary people make it a wonderful, fantastically written journey.

 

“I don’t believe the greatest views in the world are great because they are vast or exotic,” she said. “I think their power comes from the knowledge that they do not change. You look at them and you know they have been the same for a thousand years.”
“And yet how suddenly they can become new again when you see them through someone else’s eyes,” he said. “The eyes of a new friend, for example.”

This was a charming little book about charming Major Pettigrew and equally charming Mrs. Ali. Maybe not bursting with originality, but wonderfully written piece of lecture with lively, endearing characters and some kind of heart-warming humanity. Sleepy English village with is little and big problems is not too unique or exciting set, but it’s described with such genuine colours that I felt like being actually there. Huge amount of fine humour, good observations of reality, stereotypes and their counterparts. Light, pleasant, but not silly read.

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