Whoa, talk about a fascinating novel. It opens with a murder and builds from there! I finished the book in just over three days (with severely limited time) and it is most definitely a page turner with realistic characters and enough actual history thrown in to make you wonder how much is real and what isn’t.
I heard about this book from Books on the Nightstand and I HAD to read it. Not only did the story sound fascinating, but I mean come on it’s about Geoffrey Chaucer. He was the first person, out of my family, that I can remember who had the same name and more importantly, the same spelling, as ME!
I remember having to memorize the prologue to The Canterbury Tales in high school and enjoying the tales, but as interested in Chaucer as I was because of his name, I’ve never looked into his life or any fictional accounts of his life. I’ve had Who Murdered Chaucer? on my shelf for almost a month and kept putting it off, but now I’ve read this fictional book about Chaucer, I’m going right into a speculative history about Chaucer!
After nearly a month of trekking through, I’ve FINALLY finished this book. Coming in at 748 pages, this is 250 pages longer than in other book I’ve read this year and it definitely felt like it was longer! I did take a bit of time out to read two additional book during the time I read this, but they were much-needed reprieves. I of course decided to read this after seeing a trailer for the film adaptation released this past February.
I can’t say this was a bad book, because it was excellently written, but I can say it was too damn long. Most striking, however, I chose the perfect winter to read it. This winter has definitely felt as if it was one of the epic endless winter’s Helprin wrote about throughout this novel: the constant snow, the frozen water and the plunging temperatures. The only thing missing from my winter was the romance and the magic!
Aside from the length of the novel, I struggled with the reality of the novel. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out if this novel was a historical fiction novel or a fantasy novel and apparently it was both. I knew there were fantasy elements of it, but I wasn’t sure how much of it should have been fantastical or real and for some reason I found it incredibly challenging!
This is the fourth book in the Robert Langdon series and Brown’s sixth novel. As with the others, this is exactly what it sets out to be: a page turning action and adventure novel that although not a literary wonder Inferno does make you wonder about major societal and environmental issues. The entire story takes place in less than 24 hours with flashbacks to two days before.
The only other Robert Langdon novel I’ve read since starting this blog is the third installment The Lost Symbol. I’ve read all of Brown’s books and enjoy them for what they are and don’t judge them harshly like it seems most people do. I remember reading The Da Vinci Code the summer between high school and college and immediately going out to find copies of Angels and Demons, Digital Fortress and Deception Point. (Call it my hipster moment, but I read it BEFORE it took off.)
I’d love to say that Fowles’ mentioning of Jane Austen didn’t sway me, but of course it did a little, but overall that was minuscule compared to the mastery Fowles showed in this novel and he mentioned Austen and her works MULTIPLE times! But it wasn’t this that made the book so great, it was the omniscient unidentified narrator and the breaking of the fourth wall (I guess it’s called that in reading as well).
This is one of those books that make me glad that I participate in my local library’s book group! I would never have gone out of my way to read this book and I surprisingly enjoyed it. I’ve done like I did with Dances with Wolves and broken down this post into the book and movie sections. I don’t think I will add a book group recap unless something really bad happens like with Dances with Wolves.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised anymore that I’m enjoying the books selected for book group. They’ve broadened my reading and helped me to branch out, not just because of the styles and subjects I never would’ve read, but because the film adaptations are older and they are really interesting!