Thursday, April 06, 2006

And another one bites the dust

Last night, I finished "The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostova.

I think I received an email about this book, or maybe I read a review, but either way, it's been on my to read list for several months now. I remember when it first came out, how I decided to wait to put it on hold at the library because the list(s) were so incredibly long (I use two different library systems). Last week, I finally put it on hold it arrived Friday night, along with another stack of books (but that's a whole other post).

I'm kind of surprised at how long it took me to read this, because I didn't finish it until last night. I usually devour anything related to Vampires! the same night I start, as I have a secret weakness for them. (Seriously, I do. I love Vampires! That is also another post, maybe.) This book, however, was not one I could read quickly as it's packed with descriptions and names and dates and I found myself flipping back through the book, trying to remember where I first read so-and-so name, or date checking.

It starts out when a 16 year old girl discovers in her father's library a rather old and unusual book with a packet of letters, written to "My dear and unfortunate successor". She begins her own investigation into this, asking her father about the letters and doing research in a University library on the sly. From that point on, the story has three different points of view: the first is the daughters' (whose name we don't learn until almost the end of the book), then her father's, either by his stories or by the letters he leaves for her once he dissapers, and finally, we have the author of the letters (who was her father's mentor at the University he attended) and the daughter's mother, but that happens later on in the story. (Yes, the way I'm writing it, it does sound quite confusing, doesn't it? But it's not, not really. It's very clear who is speaking when and to whom they are talking to, I promise.)

What I found interesting about this story was not the search for Dracula, but the family history itself. The daughter, raised to believe that her mother died when she was a child and brought up by her father, was a dutiful child. She makes a point of mentioning how she never lied, never snuck out, never wanted to. But then, once she spies the book and opens it, it changes her. She begins to push for answers and goes so far as to start lying to her father and the housekeeper so she can sneak off to the library. Meanwhile, her father is also lying and sneaking around, first as a grad student when he receives his book and begins the search for Dracula, and then again, once his daughter starts inquiring. And then there is her mother, Helen, who's been doing her own investigations on Dracula for years, and gets sucked into this because not only is she investigating Dracula, but she's investigating her own father and her own family history.

You see?! Dracula is just the lynch pin (or something like that) in this story; it's really about the family and them all being historians/librarians/researchers and how this family is put together and torn apart and then put together again by this book. (Of course, it is about Dracula too, but, it's not. It was a drier book, a drier Dracula then I expected...too much Bram Stoker I guess.) There were a lot of other things of interest in this book, like the places Paul and his daughter go on trips, as well as the historical facts that are part of the story, and I highly recommend you pay attention to them.

The author did a Q&A for Amazon, which you can read here.

Also, did you notice how I worked in a lot of things Vampire! related? Like "bites the dust"? Hee.

No comments: