Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Rebels of Ireland...the problem with Edward Rutherford

I keep on reading Edward Rutherford's historical novels, so I can't have too big a problem with him, but having just finished his The Rebels of Ireland: The Dublin Saga minutes ago, I have to say that I like his subject matter more than his writing. His characters tend to be somewhat cardboard in texture and they all end up sounding the same, but I love learning the history of an area in the way he presents it. That is, looking at members of a half dozen families over a long period of time and sticking them into major events that happen along the way.

Another issue I have with Rutherford's books is that despite being intensely interested in the various characters, he never moves me to tears or laughter. This is a big deal because it really doesn't take much to move me to tears, but despite horrendous things happening to the good, interesting people who people his novels, I never feel that gut-wrenching angst that I love. I never get swept away and feel that I inhabit the world he is describing. Perhaps this comes from the fact that he does move from generation to generation in almost a novella or short story fashion, or perhaps I can simply chalk this up to the cardboard quality and uniform dialogue I noted earlier.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed the complete Dublin Saga - both the Princes part and the Rebels part - learned a great deal, enjoyed scouring the maps and geneology trees provided at the front of the book, and will probably read his next book. I haven't read Russka yet, and just visiting his site, I notice that there's a sequel to the Dublin Saga books called Ireland: Awakening, which I may dive into at some point.

Now, however, I have a log jam of books that need attention, not the least of which is Claire Tomalin's Jane Austen: A Life. I should have read this years ago, but I haven't so I intend to rectify that huge gap in my reading life.

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