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The Historian

October 19, 2007

pumpkin headYou may have wondered why I haven’t posted on this blog since the beginning of October. I have been rather busy reading (and as you can see in this picture, carving one big pumpkin)!

Anyway, I signed up for Carl’s RIP II challenge at the end of August, with the intention of reading four books. I just finished my second book this evening and with the 31st right around the corner, I am not even going to attempt the last two, since I have this book sitting on my nightstand waiting for me to read for my November book club meeting.

I just finished The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, which is almost a whopping seven hundred pages.

The HistorianLike an elaborately wrapped gift, The Historian needs to be unwrapped slowly and savored for the wonderful story within. In the book, the narrator finds a strange book with a dragon illustration in her father’s private library. With this discovery she begins to learn about her father’s past and the “dragon” book which mysteriously appeared to him years before and how it lead to his obsession with Vlad the Impaler (or the real life Dracula). We go on to learn about his search for his beloved missing professor (who also received a copy of the same strange book) and the love affair he had with the narrator’s long dead mother. All this coincides with the narrators own research on the legend of Dracula and subsequent search for her own father, who eventually goes missing.

Kostova’s writing is beautifully discriptive and meticulously detailed. I was able to picture clearly the house she describes here (pg. 467):

Above the foundation the walls were brick, but brick of the softest, mellowest red-gold, as if they had been soaking in sunlight for generations. The roof was of fluted red ceramic tiles. Roof and walls were a little dilapidated. The whole house looked as if it had grown slowly out of the earth and was now slowly returning to it, and as if the trees had grown above it simply to shade this process.

Beautiful, isn’t it? Having said that, there was a bit of a lull within the book, right around page 500, which made getting through the latter half of it a little difficult. All in all, The Historian was a really interesting read and I would highly recommend it, although make sure you have plenty of reading time ahead of you before you start it. This was really the perfect end to the spooky book challenge!

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. October 19, 2007 11:49 pm

    Hi Stephanie! Great job on the pumpkin! We like ours to have a bit of a menacing look too.. The Historian sounds interesting and I love the passage you quoted here- quite lyrical description that brings forth a lovely mental picture. 700 pages though, whew. That’s a lot. I’m looking forward to hearing how you like Middlesex. I read it this summer. I’ll be checking back to see what you think. I’m just starting “The Other Boleyn Girl”, also a long one! Take care, Lisa

  2. October 20, 2007 11:03 am

    My thoughts exactly! That “lull” was a toughy, but the conclusion was very satisfying.

    I’ve been so busy that I’m still trying to finish the Constant Princess. I’ve got a stack waiting for me after that.

  3. October 20, 2007 11:03 am

    WOW! You’re pumpkin carving skills are impressive. Love the little pumkin in the mouth too.

    Totally not related to books, but I just picked up a pumpkin stobe light at Michael’s craft store yesterday ($2.99) – it would look sooooo cool in your evil pumpkin.

  4. October 21, 2007 12:32 pm

    I love your pumpkin! So cool!
    You did well to read The Historian for the challenge, it is such a huge book. I bought it while reading Dracula and I’ve heard nothing but good reviews of it. I’m looking forward to reading it… someday.

  5. October 21, 2007 5:51 pm

    Great Pumpkin!

    I have The Historian on Mt. TBR but the length has always been an impediment to getting it read

  6. October 21, 2007 8:29 pm

    Definitely need plenty of reading time for this one, but it’s well worth it! Glad you enjoyed it 🙂 By the way, I love your pumpkin! It’s one of my favorites of this season!

  7. October 22, 2007 3:40 pm

    That’s a great looking pumpkin!

    Why is it that so many 700+ novels always seem to have a lull in them?

    I just finished Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell earlier this month, and went through a similar lull as with The Historian (only a bit longer).

  8. October 22, 2007 7:48 pm

    Wow, that’s one terrific pumpkin! Love it!

    I’m terrified of The Historian – too fat, not sure of the subject matter. But, I have a feeling I’ll read it, one day. Your review is very convincing. I love the excerpt about the house.

  9. October 23, 2007 4:04 am

    That’s one awesome (and hungry-lookin’!) pumpkin!

  10. October 23, 2007 11:26 pm

    Great pumpkin. I love the menacing eyebrows.

    I really like The Historian. Perfect read for this time of year.

  11. October 24, 2007 9:28 pm

    Very Cool Pumpkin!! I STILL haven’t carved ours with my daughters. (what a terrible mom I am!)

    I haven’t read this book yet. I want to, but the size is a bit daunting. (that and the fact that my lame brother stole this from me and I haven’t seen it in months!)

  12. November 2, 2007 5:58 pm

    Hey!!! I’m reading this. I had a difficult start, but am really enjoying it now. I haven’t been able to get back to it for a few days, but hope to dedicate some time to it this weekend.

  13. November 9, 2007 1:47 pm

    I just bought this book. It’s been on my list forever, but I’m excited to finally be able to read it.

  14. July 3, 2008 7:52 pm

    I added your review to my post. I like the quote you used to demonstrate some of Kostova’s beautiful writing. Good choice for RIP also!

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