I loved this book. But omgosh the ending made me just.. so…
I don’t know if it left me angry or frustrated or both in some odd combination. This is nothing against the book, because the book has an overarching theme of grudges and how they can destroy you. And seriously? Argh. Yeah, they can.
If you have a feud with someone, just let it go. You don’t even have to tell them. Just let it go.
Okay, now that we have that out of the way.
This is the story of two men, born on opposite sides of the world at the turn of the 20th century. They come from vastly different worlds; one is born into wealthy Boston society with every privilege one can imagine. One is born to a poor woman (who dies at childbirth) in the woods in rural Poland, found by a trapper’s son. You would think that these two would never meet, but their lives intertwine in the most interesting of ways through the years.
This book spans generations and follows Abel and William (Kane) til their deaths. You get to see their educations, their coming-of-age, their romances and bromances and professional lives. You get to see Abel immigrate to the US and pull himself up (with a little help and a lot of luck). You get to see William struggle with a devious stepfather and the loss of both his parents. You get to see how their personal feud affects their wives, their careers, and most devastatingly, their children.
I love the way the author weaves intricacies of history through the men’s lives. I was most fascinated by the WWII era and the effects on both men of going to war. The development of their characters, the way they change and grow and sometimes revert to acting like three-year-olds through their lives is very interesting. This book is definitely more character driven than plot driven, because the plot is just life – it’s ups and downs, it’s triumphs and tragedies. There’s no big mystery (though there is one little mystery that I knew the solution to way before Abel figured it out. I think any reader would), just the tale of two men moving through time and living their lives. That might sound boring, but it really, really isn’t.
There are quite a few little quips of wisdom through the book, though the writing isn’t anything phenomenally artistic. It’s functional writing, and the author is a very good storyteller, but I wasn’t going back and re-reading paragraphs for fun.
“If you have to pay a bill, always make it look as if the amount is of no consequence.”
“Only three things mattered about a hotel: position, position and position.”
This is a long book, but is extremely gripping. It took me some time to get through it – it’s definitely not a quick read – but I had a hard time putting it down to go to bed at night! This is not a book to pick up if you have a lot of things to do that day, seriously. You’ll get completely drawn in and won’t know where the hours went.