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New York: The Novel Paperback – September 21, 2010
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“Sweeping . . . History has never been so fun to read.”
“In the tradition of James Michener, Rutherfurd unfurls more than three centuries of the city’s history as seen through the eyes of the descendants of [the] van Dyck and Master [families]—and the many other colorful characters he introduces along the way.”
—Detroit Free Press
“Incredible storytelling . . . Readers will fall in love with the iconic city.”
—The Post and Courier
“[A] riotous, multilayered portrait.”
—The Washington Post
About the Author
Edward Rutherfurd was born in Salisbury, England, and educated at Cambridge University and Stanford University in California. His first bestselling novel, Sarum, is based on the history of Salisbury and Stonehenge. Russka, his second novel, recounted the sweeping history of Russia. London tells the two-thousand-year story of the great city, bringing all of the richness of London’s past unforgettably to life. The Forest was set in England's ancient “New Forest.” A former resident of London and New York City, Edward Rutherfurd has had a home in Dublin for more than ten years. He has two children.
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For me, the enjoyment of historical fiction is derived from the author’s ability to populate a historical place and time with fictitious but credible characters which enhance both. On that plane, Edward Rutherfurd’s “New York” works well. What also makes the book successful is Rutherfurd’s unobtrusive style which some other reviewers seemed to regard as uninteresting or just plain. My feeling is that if Rutherfurd had employed a more ornate, intrusive or crafted style, it would have added, unnecessarily, several more pages to an already enormous book and distracted the reader from the storytelling. I appreciated the fact that Rutherfurd stayed in the background and let the characters do most of the editorializing and provide most of the “color”. For me, “New York” worked best when it focused on specific events (The Draft Riots, The Blizzard of 1888, etc.) rather than when it tried to capture the general atmosphere and mood of a period. This is not to say those chapters were bad; they just weren’t as good!
So why not five stars? Perhaps the attempt to capture four centuries of New York history would prove a little unwieldy for any author. At times, the exposition of events was awkward, just a little forced. When the chapters skipped a few decades here and there, one character was obligated to fill in the blank. I don’t believe that any other writer would have succeeded in performing such a task smoothly, it’s just that some background information came across as historical footnotes disguised as dialogue or interior monologue.
That being said, I would strongly recommend Rutherfurd’s “New York” to any reader who appreciates American history, New York City and well-crafted historical fiction. This is among the best to have emerged in a very long time.
Most recent customer reviews
this book flows beautifully for the reader. Enjoyable from beginning to end. I look forward to reading more by Edward Rutherford.