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Jacob's Cellar Paperback – November 13, 2012

4.0 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"[I]f people didn't make things up, we'd have no history at all..." the core [theory] of Richard Sharp's Jacob's Cellar... [D]rama and action ...told by [a Civil War era family's] storytellers... [in] that imperfect, regional American English of the place and period... The dialog feels right...no matter who is speaking, and the relationships... run the gamut from funny to poignant...Many readers may be enthralled... romance, adventure, humor, and sadness...well told, believable, and accurate--with a few things made up just to enliven the telling.
Clarion Review

"In this historical novel, Sharp (The Duke Don't Dance, 2012) presents a frontier family... on the eve of the Civil War. Set mostly in the cellar of a homesteading house in the Platte Purchase in Missouri... [The cellar] has become a place of congregation and mystery where the family swaps stories and legends, including tales of bodies buried behind its walls...when Sharp writes in fully developed scenes, the writing shines. "
Kirkus Reviews

Readers Favorite
"[A] poignant story of survival... Sometimes funny and sometimes sad, it brings the reader to a household that lives [through the Civil War] with its own share of adventure, romance, happiness and tragedy...  that will certainly grip the reader's attention." (Maria Beltran)
"[A] well-written and totally absorbing story of a family... through the difficult decades of the 1800's. The characters, both leading and secondary, are well-created and totally believable. I felt as if I knew them personally...  The conclusion is not to be missed. Wow!" (Alice DiNizio)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 282 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (November 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1478350326
  • ISBN-13: 978-1478350323
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,177,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Title: Jacob's Cellar
Author: Richard Sharp
Reviewer: George Shadow

Summary:
A mysterious story about what happened to grandfather Jacob in the cellar and why it happened. A family moves west, again and again, their journey spanning the Revolutionary War through the Civil War, and within this time, so many things take place and a particular generation is left to tell us all this with dialogues and letters. This is the story's background.

Social/Historical Context:
This story is about war, love, family and secrets. The American Revolution is an intriguing historical chronicle any day, but when it is told by the people who lived around this fortuitous period in American history, it becomes a masterpiece as several hidden events become clearer. This is not all. From the period of the new nation's victory to the days of looming civil war, author Richard Sharp artistically fuses his high-end historical mystery with the nation's cacophonous beginnings. Now the Mexican War and the Civil War follow this approach, and what we finally get is a tale, which seems long at first, but becomes quite fascinating when brought into perspective.

Writing Style:
I still think the author could have done a better job of this. His method of using dialogue and old letters to spin out his story kind of blunted the overall feel of the narration, if you know what I mean. It left me wondering whether the action conceived in the tale could have been better conveyed by flashbacks or something of this nature. Maybe the characters telling a story and the author now taking us back to better convey this tale by writing in his own words what actually happened. Dunno. However, the characters are quite homely and the relationship they have toward one another is a strong one.
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Format: Paperback
This book started slowly for me and then it grabbed me! It is a work of historical fiction. The book is about war, family, relationships, secrets and assimiliation. What first grabbed my attention was the mystery of what happened to Jacob in the celler. But then the lives of the many protaganosists, how they intertwined, and how they related to each other, as well as, how THEY were related to each other really sparked my interest. The storytelling was fantastic. I loved how it all unfolded and certain "truths" came out. The reader does learn what happened in the cellar - not just what happened to Jacob but what occured between other characters and how certain events shaped and changed lives. I really enjoyed this book.
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Format: Paperback
A tale of a family whose stories about their lives moving west, and west again and again forms the core of who they are and who they will become. Spanning the Revolutionary War through the Civil War, the love of these people from generation to generation is interwoven throughout this story.

It is also a tale of mystery. It is also about what happened to grandfather Jacob in the cellar - or rather why it happened - is the core around which the story turns. Through their struggles as a family, they continue to preserve their bonds of love and understanding for each other. It is a unique and powerful novel, unlike any other I've read.(less)
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Format: Paperback
This is the second book I have read by Mr. Sharp, so I was excited to start Jacob's Cellar because I enjoyed The Duke Don't Dance so much

This is a book written in a multi-narrative point of view during the Civil War. Each character is an immigrant who is seeking shelter the basement. The leader of the group has been appointed to the blind grandfather who spends his time telling stories of family lore. He spices up many of his stories incorporating the popular stories originally told by Edgar Allan Poe, and Shakespeare. How much he incorporates and what he adds to his own stories, is determined by which family member he is telling the story to. There is a wide variety of ages incorporating three generations of family member which means lots of attention is on grandpa to entertain the with stories told from the American Revolution to the Civil War.

I wish some of the stories would have been written in a flashback point of view. I believe it would have gripped the reader in a much stronger way, but I am absolutely not disappointed how Mr. Sharp developed this book. I was engrossed with action and drama which goes to prove you don't have to incorporate different settings to keep the reader's attention. This is my only complaint about the book and Richard Sharps writing style.

Each character comprised in this book all had such strong and different personalities. Everyone had their strong and weak attributes, all bringing different qualities to the table in order to work efficiently as a family.

My favorite part of Jacob's Cellar was the great amount of different narration. It was so fun and interesting to read about every character and the stories that built up their personalities. You can put a large timeline of stories from multiple generations just by reading of a family who shared everything with one another.

All in all I would give this book a 5/5. I was able to read it with ease and great interest.
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Format: Paperback
I liked this book despite the fact that I considered it structurally flawed. I was won over by the loveable Grandpa Fentress, who turned out to be more than a bit of a scamp, and some remarkably entertaining twists in the narrative.

Yet I would be remiss if I didn't point out that very few events in Jacob's Cellar were shown as happening to the characters in real time. More than ninety percent of the novel is conveyed through exposition, dialogue about events that had already happened, and letters. It seems to me that this is not the most effective way to construct a narrative. It lessens the impact of the novel. I often felt distanced from the characters, particularly at the outset. I had a hard time identifying who all these people were, and how they were related to each other. I wished that I had a chart of the Ebhart family for reference. I might have had an easier time if there had been some flashbacks so that I could have had more direct contact with the more historically distant characters. They would have been better fleshed out, and therefore more memorable.

The expository passages sometimes felt long and tedious. This was especially true of the narration about the Civil War. The author was showing off the extent of his research, but not contributing very much in the way of excitement.

I honestly feel that Jacob's Cellar was meant to be three books. The first would be about the earliest generation of the Ebharts in America. Since the 18th century is my favorite period in American history, I would definitely have loved a firsthand account of the Regulator Revolt and the Battle of the Alamance. The second would deal with the life and death of the mysterious Jacob, and the third with his son Jake's experiences in the Mexican War and the Civil War. The drama of Jake's war experiences could have been brought to life more successfully by showing them as they happened through the eyes of both Jake and Adelita.
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