posts on 10/7/2012 3:38:06 PM
I finished Russka, passed on to my wife, who has just gotten through the first two novellas. The entire time that I read it, I was asking myself just what anyone can say on a comparative basis about a good read vs. a great one. It is unquestionable with Nabokov, for example, but in the case of historical novels, the genre itself seems to work against greatness. But when one looks at this work, one is confronted with qualities that are at once immensely eclectic and derivative, that part without apology and even called out in Rutherfurd's brief preface. But they work together for a very unusual task, to weave an historical tapestry 2000 years wide. The tools for coherence include the loose genealogy, intricate, layered plots, in each era a view to the top but seldom from it. We read of people who are trapped in eras. Everything done in this falls short of "magnificent," but that it works at all is what amazes me. The worst error that can be made in an historical novel is to put the characters so much in the foreground that history is simply used as a stage set. That is the difference between Tolstoy, who does not make that mistake, and Wouk, who does in War and Remembrance. Here, Rutherfurd to me weighs in with Tolstoy. He uses fascinating stories, to be sure, but he never loses sight of what he is illustrating in his stories, the political and economic forces presented by them. That makes his game a serious and honest one, to use the show of fiction to show us the panorama of Russia. Not easy. In terms of what he set out to do, the success with which he did it, I find this book if not great, close enough to make one wonder, really, what to make of it.
posts on 4/28/2011 3:01:33 PM
I have read Sarum Twice and am nearly finished with Russka. I love them both. Next, New York.
posts on 1/29/2008 3:17:32 PM
Although not a Rutherfurd book, readers may share similar interests. Does anyone know of a book set at the time of the dissolution of the monastaries, about a young monk at Beaulei Abbey who is learning to do illuminations and is sent to another monastary to warn the Abbott of the approach of Henry VIII soldiers? It was a class book in England in the 1960s and I have been searching ever since.
posts on 12/13/2007 10:17:28 AM
I have just finished reading Ken Follett's novel "Pillars of the Earth", written in 1989. It bears many similarities to Edward Rutherford's "Sarum", written in 1987. Has there been any controversy regarding this "coincidence"?
posts on 8/21/2007 8:03:48 AM
Read sarum a few years ago,now reading London.Absolutely brlliant!!
posts on 8/10/2007 5:10:28 PM
I have read Sarum twice. I like the way he wove the rise of religion into the story.
posts on 12/27/2006 7:26:59 PM
I havent read any of Rutherford's books
but I heard they're good
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