Nov 29, 2006
Nov 27, 2006
Date: November 27, 2006 2:45 PM
Topic: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
The Historian. Elizabeth Kostova. Little Brown, 2005. ISBN: 0316011770Below is my review as published in Library Journal:
Did Bram Stoker base his character Count Dracula on the historical Vlad Dracul, the cruel 15th-century prince of Wallachia? Some believe this despite scanty evidence, but in Kostova's first novel there is no doubt. In the early 20th century, Paul, a young graduate student, learns from his advisor, Professor Rossi, that Prince Dracula is still alive as one of the undead. When the professor disappears one terrifying night, Paul goes in search of his mentor, whom he knows to be in Dracula's clutches. His search takes him to secret archives and libraries of ancient monasteries throughout Eastern Europe; he is joined by his daughter, his wife, and friends, all historians and scholars themselves. (There's even an evil, undead librarian!) The writing is excellent, and the pace is brisk, although it sagsxa bit in the middle. There is plenty of suspense so that readers will want to find out what happens next. Ten years in the writing, this debut is recommended for readers who enjoy arcane literary puzzles la Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code and Ian Caldwell's The Rule of Four. This review is reprinted by permission of Library Journal. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information
The Historian, last year's bestselling novel, was a first time novel for Kostova. Little Brown announced this book with great fanfare. The author was sent on a whirl-wind tour with book signings and interviews all across the country. I was fortunate to hear her interviewed by Diane Rehm on NPR. She did an impressive amount of research for her book.
Mark Flanagan has an interview with Kostova on About.com
Nov 25, 2006
Nov 17, 2006
This oldie but goodie is one of my favorites!
Nov 11, 2006
When Suzy McKee Charnas was eight years-old her father, Robin McKee, left her, her mother and sister to dedicate his life to being an artist. He was spectacularly unsuccessful. Contact with his children was intermittent but never broken. Several years later realizing that Robin was living a meager existence in Manhattan and had problems caring for himself as he entered old age, Charnas invites him to live with her and her husband in New Mexico. Surprisingly he accepts.
Charnas writes eloquently and honestly of life with a father that in many ways was a stranger to her. Robin was taciturn, difficult and not prone to sentimentality, but there were moments when he and Suzy connected in ways she had never imagined possible.
The second section of this memoir covers the last 3 years of Robin's life. His health has declined to such a degree that Charnas must find a nursing home for him. After a long search she finds an affordable place with a caring staff. The transition for both father and daughter is difficult, but even here, in the unlikeliest of places, there is a ray of light and hope no one could have imagined. Truth really is stranger than fiction.
I have long been an admirer of Charnas's science fiction and fantasy work. Here her novelist's eye paints a mesmerizing portrait of herself, her father and other fascinating characters in her life. I sat down one afternoon to read a few chapters and found myself so absorbed in this true and complex story that I literally could not put it down. It is truly a remarkable work.
And yes, there is a romance at the most unexpected place in the most unexpected way.
Note: Ms Charnas is the author of two critically acclaimed vampire novels: The Vampire Tapestry, and The Ruby Tear (writing as Rebecca Brand), as well as Stagestruck Vampires and Other Phantasms - a collection of short stories and essays.