Before I talk about the book, I need to take a moment to hyperventilate about how I’ve only read 15 books so far this year. That seems like such a small number! It’s possible that I’ve read a lot of big books (this was one), and that I don’t realize how big they are because of the kindle (ahem, Goldfinch), but it’s still important for me to remember that my free time isn’t limitless (despite appearances), and that a significant contribution to one hobby (sewing) means that other hobbies have less time. Whatever will I do when I’m in a relationship? Or if I have kids one day? How will I measure my years if not by stacks of books read and garments or quilts sewn? Should I be doing more with my free time? Is this an existential crisis?!
So, I bought this book a while ago, knowing that it was a classic, often showing up on lists of books that must be read. But it’s huge, and the cover is so boring, and I had no idea what it was about so there was no reason to pick it up.
Thankfully, some friends mentioned it and told me why I should read it. I forgot those reasons, but still remembered to pick it up. Which was perfect, because I was able to approach the story with no preconceived notions.
It reminded me a bit of Middlemarch, in the way that you’re introduced to so many characters and their histories, and you keep peeking around the corner, expecting the plot as described on the book jacket to rear it’s head. But instead, it just meanders along, pleasantly, but without any indication that you’re going anywhere particular. And then, before you know it, you’ve been caught up in all of this history and the weight of it, and you’re emotionally invested in so many characters, yet you still manage to keep track of them, and you realize the book is nearly over, and you’re sad that everything might be ending but also SO CURIOUS to find out what’s going to happen and how this is all going to tie itself together.
And if that moment happens as you’re waiting to leave for a trip to Europe, you might find yourself crying and texting the friend who is on her way to pick you up from the airport, begging for 10 more minutes so you can get to the end of this book.
I never had a chance to process it, but I sure am glad I didn’t lug that huge book to the other side of the planet.
Who wants to talk about this book with me? I think there are some strong feelings hidden under three weeks of adventure.