Has anyone read The Pillars of the Earthby Ken Follett? I am nearing the end. Finally. It might be the longest book I’ve ever read. One of my clients suggested it because she was reading it with her book club ( it was also an Oprah book – she’s right about everything, isn’t she?). That was over a year ago. Initially, its length seemed like a positive. It’s nice to read a great book and not have to worry about coming to the end too quickly.
Not to say this book is not great. There’s all sorts of stuff about cathedral building and architecture, which I’m sure is fascinating if you’re into that sort of thing. The characters are well fleshed out and their stories mostly interesting, if a bit soap-opera-y. My issue is with this formula:
* Prior Philip/Aliena/Jack Jackson experience some sort of adversity
* Prior Philip/Aliena/Jack Jacskson figure out how to overcome their adversity
* William Hamliegh/Waleran Bigod decide to spitefully and vengefully derail any one of the three aforementioned characters’ triumphs
* Prior Philip/Aliena/Jack Jackson are momentarily thrown off track by said derailment, but will ultimately prevail
I’ve lost count how many times this cycle occurs in the book. It makes me want to hurl all 983 pages of it across the room – in fact, I would if I weren’t paranoid that the size and weight of it would do permanent damage to my furniture and newly painted bedroom walls.
This recurring plot device is also the reason that it has taken me so long to get through the book – I am never really enthusiastic about picking it up, and have read many other books from beginning to end since I started it. Still, as I near the end, it is with mixed feelings. It’s like saying good-bye to someone you don’t necessarily like that much, but but when they’re gone you realize they really weren’t that bad after all.