Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Title: The Historian
Author: Elizabeth Kostova
Pages: 909

This was not a typical book for me. I have never really been one to be super interested in witchcraft and Dracula and other mythical characters. When I was younger I watched Buffy a little, but just never really felt drawn to it. After being given a short synopsis from a friend at work, I knew it was something I had to at least try to read. Well, I can definitely say that I was completely surprised by how facinated I became with the story and how much I've wanted to read Bram Stoker's Dracula since I finished.

The descriptions in this book are wonderful! They are so vivid and alive, that you feel like you are standing there with the character, seeing everything around them for yourself. There are some places that were mentioned in the book that I would love to travel to. The writing flows so smoothly that you do not get caught up in the number of pages that are just flying by. Large books can often times be daunting, but I believe that a good writer can make you forget about the number of pages, because you become so wrapped up in the story being told you forget about the number and often times end up wanting more at the end.

The way that she used letters, journal entries and research to reveal details about the story as it was unfolding in both the past and present was very entertaining. The story unravels over four decades, from the 1930's to the 1970's as the main character learns about her father's most precious secrets. Traveling all over Europe to find his missing mentor, who was also a recipient of the special dragon book. Pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place, but will they be able to solve their mystery before it's too late?

Here is one of my favorite passages:

"Looking back at that moment, I understand that I had lived in books so long, in my narrow university setting, that I had become compressed by them internally. Suddenly, in this echoing house of Byzantium - one of the wonders of history - my spirit leaped out of its confines. I knew in that instant that, whatever happened, I could never go back to my old constraints. I wanted to follow life upward, to expand with it outward, the way this enormous interior swelled upward and outward. My heart swelled with it, as it never had during all my wanderings amoung the Dutch merchants." (pg. 258-259)

I was kind of disappointed in the ending, but I'm also a little confused by it. I'm just feel like there is something there that I'm not completely understanding. This is definitely one of those books that I wanted to keep going. I do love that in this book Dracula himself has quite a literary collection. I find it amusing that he would have such a love for books.

This is a great book that I would highly recommend to anyone who has not yet read it!


Laura said...

I'm glad you liked this one so much! Now do you plan to read Dracula? Are you still considering it for your book club choice?

I forgot I was going to go back and read the ending again--I can't really remember it very well...

Kari said...

Laura - I am still considering it!! My only concern is that everyone won't enjoy it. But so far, I haven't come up with anything else.

You'll have to check out the ending and let me know what you think.

Thank you so much for you synopsis, you were the friend I was referring to who made me want to read this book!!!