Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Pillars of the Earth

And the award for longest book ever goes to....drum roll.... The Pillars of the Earth! Actually, that's not quite true. I'm pretty sure I've read 2 books that were longer, or at least *felt* longer. Number one was The Emancipator's Wife by Barbara Hambly, which was a book about Abraham Lincoln's crazy wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. I just checked and that book was apparently only 624 pages, but boy did it feel longer (word to the wise - this book starts out great but do not be fooled because it actually sucks). The second one was Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles by Margaret George. According to Amazon, that book only had 880 pages. So I guess I was right, this really is the longest book ever. The Pillars of the Earth had a whopping 973 pages! And each page is as big as a sheet of 8.5x11 paper. I'm serious.

In better news, it was WAY more interesting than the two runners up. The story and characters were very captivating and it felt more like watching a movie in my head than reading a book. I was right about the plot being vaguely Dan Brownish, but more like a slow-motion, medieval Dan Brown kind of plot. The story is told over the course of 45 years so it couldn't exactly be described as a "thriller", but it did have scandal in the church, romance, and near disasters were definitely averted by the quick thinking main characters. Sadly though, there were no albinos in this story.

While reading, I thought a few different times that the story would make a good movie. But then I had kind of an interesting revelation - I enjoy reading medieval books, but I hate medieval movies. If they actually did make a movie out of this book, I probably wouldn't go. I didn't even see The Other Boleyn Girl when it came to the theatres, even though I loved the book and harbor a secret obsession with Natalie Portman. And this is not because I'm one of those book snobs that goes to movies and then says "The book was soooo much better". Because I don't, I swear! Well, maybe I did for The DaVinci Code, but that was because the book really was sooo much better and I think even Tom Hanks would agree with me on that. Sorry Tom. Weirdly though, as soon as I pictured this book as a movie, I immediately had a flash of Mel Gibson in Braveheart ala 1995 and almost barfed a little bit. And I'm 99% sure that my near barfing was not a result of Mel Gibson being creepy and gross in real life. I just really don't like medieval movies. Then I realized that I feel the same about Sci Fi books. Sometimes I kind of like them. But if you so much as linger for an extra 30 seconds on Star Trek while flipping channels and I will kick the remote out of your hand faster than Ralph Macchio.

Hmmm... I feel that perhaps I have veered off course with my review.

This book was kind of the opposite of the last book I read, The Inheritance of Loss. That book was all about the prose, and The Pillars of the Earth was all about the story. I felt pissed at the evil character of William (why wouldn't he just die?!) and wondered about the other characters when I wasn't reading the book (would Aliena ever get her marriage annulled and marry Jack the master builder?!). Unlike most super long books, I never felt like the book was dragging and I didn't have to talk myself into finishing it at all. I also liked the architectural aspect of the book. It was interesting to read about the construction of churches during this period. Whenever I've seen ancient churches in Europe, I've always marveled at the construction and it's crazy to think about the patience required to build a cathedral that takes 15 years.

I heard that there's a sequel that came out recently called The World Without End. I don't plan to rush out and buy it tomorrow, but I'm definitely keeping it on the back burner. Instead, I plan to start The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri tonight.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

I have been dying for a book that is like a Dan Brown book but not a Dan Brown book...I have also been meaning to go to the gym more so this heavy book may be right up my alley.