There were many good things to say about this book. It was written very well. The main character has a very distinctive voice and was relatable. The emotional elements were written sparingly but with great care and respect. It was with emotional intelligence.
The story revolves around the death of an older brother and how the younger brother comes apart at the seams in his grief. His mind fractures and watching his downward trajectory is difficult but moving at the same time. The mother takes a great deal of her grief out on the surviving son, isolating him, almost torturing him in an emotional way, perhaps if she had received the help she needed he wouldn’t have had to carry so much. His dad is virtually absent and the only normal influence in his life is his grandmother. A truly loving and understanding person.
You are taken through his hospitalisation and rehab centre which from his perspective wasn’t easy at all. The end does bring some closure and perhaps even hope and new beginning for a young man who has been through far too much in a very short space of time.
An empathetic and well written story of what a descent into mental illness is really like.
At one end of the spectrum our members really enjoyed this book, on the other end the word used was ‘insufferable’.
To break it down, The Historian is an in-depth tracking down of the real Draculya, not the Hollywood version but the historical man as well as the mythology surrounding him. The book is weighed down in detail, and relies far too much on letters to convey vast amounts of information. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is mentioned a number of times in the book as if to form a direct comparison. Letters are also used in Bram’s book, but they used far more effectively.
The true genius of this book was the way different time lines were woven together with apparent ease. Every character is carefully maintained in each story stream and you learn each characters history as well as the historical quest they are following. The prose is many places is beautiful and exceptionally well written.
The disappointment is that the characters never truly find their voice. They are more like cardboard cut outs filling in their scenes with no development or growth. None of us became invested in any of the characters no matter what threat they were facing. It appeared to us that the characters were sacrificed entirely on the altar of pure history.
Too many times this book read like a dry history, something more akin to a textbook than anything suspenseful, which appeared to us to be a lost opportunity that could have been something truly epic.
Having staggered through to the end of this book I thought that it was an extremely long-winded way of telling a very short story.
A rather naïve teenage girl is seriously manipulated by a deceased uncle into caring for his sick partner, who is similarly manipulated into caring for his late lover’s favourite niece. End of….
The background is unusual, being set in the 1980’s, when Aids was a full-on media subject, but what are we supposed to do about it? Are we supposed to reflection how far we’ve come since then both in medicine and in social attitudes? If so, Brunt doesn’t make a very convincing case and anyway, do we really want to go over all that again? It was a particularly unpleasant time and hopefully, we’ve lost our prejudices and have become more liberal without having to resort to fiction.
The best bits of the book are psychological studies of the two teenage girls, June the favoured niece and Greta the waspish elder sister. Devoid of parental interaction – both parents are both heavily engaged in the ‘tax season’ – they have more freedom that they can handle and the emotional ups and downs of June’s relationship with Toby, Uncle Finn’s dying partner, and Greta’s bitchiness towards her younger sister are long drawn out and irritating.
Both girls are believable characters however, and the reader does become anxious for the well-being of both of them as June descends into emotional confusion and Greta hits the bottle.
In fact the last few chapters really are the most interesting part, and spur the reader on to complete what is otherwise a tedious narrative.
I like reading circle books with discussion points at the end, but in this case the topics on page 370-1 are largely hypothetical. The three I really agree with are 3, 6 and 8. Finn was a psychological blackmailers, a manipulative user of both June and Toby.