Friday, February 24, 2012

Book 2 of 2012 -- New York

When I was a teen I went through a phase where I read many James Michener novels.  ANd I found that I liked that historical epic novel style.

As an adult I discovered Edward Rutherfurd, whose works are the same style.  The first of his that I read was Sarum, about the area around Salisbury in England.  New York is the first novel of Rutherfurd's I have read that is set outside the British Isles (though not the first he has written, as he has one about Russia).

The historical epic is an interesting animal.  The author has to decide how to balance historical detail with the fictional detail of the story.  And has to do so in a way that the story works without doing violence to the facts.  When well done (and I am sure that these authors do some pretty good research) they are a joy to read.

I liked this book (as I expected to).  It may end up being a bit of a love song to the city --something I have noted in Rutherfurd's other works-- but it names some of the less lovely aspects of the history.  In this book we mainly follow one family's line from the Dutch era through to the Epilogue set in 2009.  Over the course of time there are other families who appear, disappear, and reappear.  And in a nice piece of bookending the first chapter and the epilogue both speak of freedom--one of the holy grails of USan culture.

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