Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Historian

It took me nearly a month to read this book which I found was sort of frustrating because I had been on such a book-reading frenzy. However, that being said, it was nice to read a book with some depth and intelligence.

I had been wanting to read The Historian for a long time but always put it off. I even read The Swan Thieves before I read this one which, to me, was a good move. Her second novel was a little more accessible while The Historian can be daunting.

Elizabeth Kostova is a gem. She writes with a fascinating eye for details some may call it a little heavy but I find it beautiful and refreshing. I found this book in the runnings to be a contemporary classic if nothing else but for the literary value of the writing. What Kostova has done is taken a classic and made it her own.

The book follows three storylines: 1930s with Professor Rossi, 1950s with Paul and Helen who are searching for a missing Professor Rossi and the tomb of Dracula, and 1970s with Paul and Helen's daughter. Some say that the 1970s plot is the main story when, to me, it is just the basis while the story of Paul and Helen is the main plot line. It doesn't really matter which one is the main one because they are all pleasant to read. The book itself jumps around quite a bit but it is not confusing or bothersome in any way. Kostova handles the timeline differences deftly. While there are some scenes that get confusing, namely at the end, where the action seems too vague, for the most part, this book is easy to follow.

I loved, absolutely loved, the descriptions of the places. I am not very familiar with Eastern Europe and its history so this was a delight to read because it was all somewhat new to me. I want to take a The Historian tour through Europe and see all the places feature in the books. Here are just a few pictures I found on Google (you can see why I want to go there):

1. Hagia Sofia in Istanbul

2. Budapest, Hungary

3. Bachkovo, Bulgaria

4. Sveti Georgi

5. Amsterdam

Those are just a few of the places I can remember from the book. They spend a lot of time traveling which is not that exciting in itself but it is handled well by Kostova. She makes the landscape itself seem mysterious and compelling which is quite a task.

My only real complaint about this book is that it goes a little long. There are some things in there that I felt were dragged out a little too much. But the long read was rewarded with a stunning ending. Even though it's a long book (my copy was just over 900 pages) it goes by really fast until about 3/4 of the way through then it gets a little sluggish, but plow through because it is very much worth it at the end.

This was me while reading Elizabeth Kostova's novel. It is quite suspenseful!

I give it 4.5 out of 5 cloves of garlic.


  1. I enjoyed The Historian more than Swan Thieves. I agree that there were some parts that drug on a little bit, but the book as a whole was very captivating. I loved the travel aspects of it as well. I had been to some of those places, so the image in my mind as I read was great.

  2. I'm going to have to read it. Since my "delicate condition" I have lost all sense of wanting to read, but it's coming back. Maybe because I know that soon, the END IS NEAR and I won't be able to read when I want for a long time.

    As for a previous post that I somehow missed, the one about randomness, I thought the blood thing was HILARIOUS (and I'm A+, btw). Also, NC is ALWAYS an option for a vacation...well, for at least the next two years--but only if you want a tour guide.