My name is Slawka Grabowska. I organize Donostia Book Club. We meet every month to discuss previously chosen books or short stories. Check out our FB page! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Donostia-Book-Club/105225566276875?ref=hl
Uffff.... that was a long read (880 pages) but it was totally worth it! When we've met on April, 11th to discuss it no one has managed to finish the whole book, but most of us were planning to keep on reading. And let me say: I don't regret that choice even for one moment.
I have to say, usually I am not a fan of historical novels. Too many dates and descriptions, that at times seem almost surgical, bore me. But not 'New York': you can read it in 4 different ways:
- as a simple novel, just relax and read on;
- as a history book, sure it is a bit simplistic, but it covers 4 centuries!
- as a touristic guide, all the sites are described with lots of details;
- as a complex novel of love, adventure and intrigue.
It starts in 1664, when NY was still New Amsterdam, and ends in 2001, on the 10th of September. There is also an epilogue in summer 2009.
How to write a novel covering 4 centuries? Rutherfurd has a signature pattern he's using in all his works. And it works! There are a few familiar sagas that show the multiculturalism of the city: among them Van Dyck (Dutch), the Masters (British), the family of slaves (no surname) or O'Donnells (Irish). Some of them seem to be more important than the others, all of them we see struggling to survive in the New World.
One might say that that format doesn't allow to add any depth to the characters and that's true. We read it more as a chronicles, familiar annuals, but that gives us broader point of view. The main character here, without any doubt is the city. We see New York shaping its citizens, changing and making them change. Is it less ambitious than a traditional novel? By no means! It is an impressive work, a piece that just keeps on amazing you. How to do a research for that kind of project? Most of us wouldn't even know where to start!
Next on my list: 'Paris' by the same author. It will have to wait for summer, when I can read 1000 pages with no disturbances from the real world ;)