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Elizabeth Kostova - The Historian

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Elizabeth Kostova - The Historian

Old 08-31-05, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by noonan4224
Probably becuase, like me, they are having to force themselves to finish it. I really wanted to give up after the first few hundered pages, but I stuck with it and eventually finished it.
Could be, although most people I've talked to enjoyed it. I read it over 4th of July weekend & thought it was pretty good.
Old 09-02-05, 05:14 PM
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Here's a review I wrote of it a while back on my blog....

...For most of its 650 pages, "The Historian" is a solid page-turner, a good summer read that brims over with intelligence and historical tidbits. It's got that tantalizing sense that the "Da Vinci Code" also excelled at. Kostova clearly did her research, and her passages will often make you feel as if you're walking the streets and forgotten corners of Istanbul, Bulgaria, Hungary or Italy. There's some good scary moments. The characters are solid, if not tremendously deep, and the haunting legend at its core is given some intriguing new dimension.

But one big problem for "The Historian" is the structure. Kostova poorly chose to make most of the the book a flashback within a flashback and frequently, there are flashbacks WITHIN those flashbacks within flashbacks. The story's main thread, told through a series of letters, completely takes over the book for hundreds of pages, and you almost forget the other stories being told. Flashbacks can work well, but Kostova's clumsy structure distances you from the book a little too much.

"The Historian" also wallows a bit too much in historical detail. You know the saying - a great book can never be too long, an OK one definitely can. There's great bits about secret societies, mysterious woodcuts and strange journeys, and I found it interesting to learn about the habits of Bulgarian monks and Wallachian warlords. But around halfway through the book you feel like she's stalling, and the search becomes way too drawn-out and meandering. Too much exposition, not enough forward movement.

I could've forgiven "The Historian"'s quirks if it led to a great payoff. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite. While Kostova's vision of the prince of darkness is compelling and fresh, her climax is peremptory and rushed. Some of the dozens, hundreds of pages used as Eastern European travelogue could have been shifted over to give more weight to her ending. "The Historian" is worth reading if you're a fan of the pulpy pleasures of Anne Rice or "Da Vinci" style globetrotting history. But I don't think it quite works, and it won't ever be as immortal as the Bram Stoker novel it's so heavily inspired by.
Old 09-09-05, 07:46 PM
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Just finished this.

Pretty much the same opinion as most here. I like here writing style and it was a decent read. But there's little payoff as the ending just blows by like all the action scenes in the book. Pretty lame to get all the detail everywhere except for the 3 or 4 times something exciting happens!

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