It is finished at last. I really loved reading this book– at least through the first 500 + pages. After that I stuck with it because I had to know what was going to happen. I had invested so much time in it that I couldn’t let it go. I wasn’t disappointed but the last 1/4 of the book was less compelling to me than the first 3/4.
Dan Simmons is a terrific writer and seems to thrive on telling exhausting historical tales. I would read something else of his in an instant if I liked the topic– if not, I don’t think I could stick it out. I started The Terror when it came out but I couldn’t get into the story and the whole maritime vibe so I put it aside. Now that I’ve read Drood I can appreciate Simmons’ talent but I know I have to love the topic, too.
And love the topic, I did. The idea of exploring the relationship between two well known British authors (Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins) was fascinating — especially since they both lived lives of upper crust British excess, adultery and substance abuse. You can’t beat Simmons’ portrait of these two characters for descriptions of mid-19th century luxury, be it in food, clothing, travel or substance abuse. Add an elusive serial killer, mesmerism, adultery and multiple mistresses to this as well as a heavy dose of underground and slum filled London and it’s my idea of historical fiction heaven. There’s even a bit of Egyptology in this!
I discovered Wilkie Collins this past year when my book club read The Woman in White and loved it– I jumped at the chance to imagine more about his life and circumstances. One of the most fulfilling aspects of the novel is the chance to remind myself of the vast catalogue of Dickens and Collins’ work. They were both prolific writers and reading Drood does whet my appetite to read more from each of them. It was helpful to have some sense of each of their work as I was reading (the more you know the better), but it’s not essential and my guess is that you’ll leave wanting to know more about them both. I’m actually quite interested in finding out how much of this is accurate– I’m going to check out Simmons’ bibliography at the conclusion of the book. Even if it’s not true, it’s a heck of a read!
I’m trying something new. I’ve decided to see what all the fuss is about at Barnes & Noble’s First Look Online Book Club. Their next title looks appealing to me– what’s not to love about Salem, witches, and historical fiction? Remind me to say how much I hated The Lace Reader, but that’s a topic for another day.
I’m including the BN blurb introducing the April read written by the moderator, Maria. I’m looking forward to seeing how this goes. I’m fascinated by the whole on-line anonymous book club idea so I’ll blog about my experience here. I’ll also give my review of the book. I think I’m due back online with them by March 30th. I’ve already introduced myself online but I’ll be anxious to see how long it takes to GET the book and read it. It took them @9 days to respond to my request to join and I clocked in soon after the title was announced. I wonder how many folks get ARCs? We’ll see!
In the meantime, Drood continues to thrill me. 🙂
Katherine Howe and The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie’s grandmother’s abandoned home near Salem, she can’t refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key secreted within a seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discovery launches Connie on a quest to find out who this woman was, and to unearth a rare colonial artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge of herbs and other, stranger things. As the pieces of Deliverance’s harrowing story begin to fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of the long-ago witch trials, and begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem’s dark past then she could have ever imagined.
About Katherine Howe:
Katherine Howe is completing a Ph.D. in American and New England Studies, and is a descendant of Elizabeth Proctor, who survived the Salem witch trials, and Elizabeth Howe, who did not. The idea for this novel developed while Howe was studying for her doctoral qualifying exams, and walking her dog through the woods between Marblehead and Salem. She lives in Massachusetts, with her husband.
I’ve been on the road the past few days. My grandmother passed away at age 102 and our family gathered for her funeral. We had a wonderful time celebrating her life and it was good to see family I see so infrequently.
It was, however, a good opportunity for me to take my Kindle iphone/ipod touch ap for a spin. I must admit I loved the convenience and didn’t miss having to tote my big fat copy of Drood around (yes, I’m STILL reading it and STILL loving it). I still crave a Kindle and still love the touch and feel of a ‘real’ book, but it was a great alternative for me during this hectic time. I had access to it anywhere and it didn’t take up any extra space. It’s fabulous for ‘covert’ reading, too!
Since I haven’t scored an ARC of Drood, I’ve been waiting for my copy from the library (see below!). That would normally be a fine way to read a hot new fiction title, but not this time. You see, my library has Drood on a ‘high interest’ list so I only have the book for one week. It’s 750+ pages, people, and I have to work and care for my family. I’m a fast reader, but I’d defy most folks to finish that book up in 7 days. My library won’t buy more than one copy because of County budget cuts. Suck!
So I’m sad. It had to return to the library today and I only made it to page 206. Brilliant and wonderful p. 206. I LOVE this book. I might never love another thing Dan Simmons has written or will write, but I LOVE this book.
Now I’ll buy it!
Oh happy day! Amazon has released a *free* app for the iphone/itouch that will allow its owners to buy and read Kindle format books on their Apple gadgets. I am beyond thrilled. I’m an itouch owner (didn’t want the monthly bill associated with full phone/data plan) who has been experimenting with tiny phone reading apps and I long for a Kindle and it’s larger format. I’m contenting myself with the itouch format for now, but the $20+ cost of ebooks was really daunting. I decided I’d only read free classics on my itouch.
Anyway, this morning I downloaded the free Kindle app and will now be able to buy their ebooks and keep them in my Amazon Kindle account. I can store purchased books in my Kindle account off my itouch and never lose access to them. I am just tickled by the fact that the books are so much cheaper, too. It’s all good until I can actually afford to buy a Kindle. Someday! Until then this is a FABULOUS alternative.
I can’t tell you how pleased I am to report that a copy of Dan Simmons’ novel, Drood awaits me at my local library! I love it that when I can’t get an ARC (or it’s too late for one!), I can often get them quickly at my local house o’reading. Our local library may have its faults (mostly the fault of inattention by local government and a lack of tax support), but I don’t usually have too much competition for the most interesting new books. My only fear is that I’ll get it with on a * one week loan*!!! How will I read a tome like Drood in one week? I’ll have to stay up all night for a week to make that happen. I’m assuming I’ll just get a taste of the book and have to return it. Perhaps not, but it should be a hot read. I can’t wait!!