Ken Follett and Jonathan Franzen


Fall of Giants

Fall of Giants


I just spent almost two weeks reading Ken Follett’s newest tome,”Fall of Giants”. It’s the first of a new trilogy. Hey, it’s only 1000 pages of history , battles, and family sagas. What’s not to love! And, love it I did.

Follett has a way with words, and words, and more words. He also has a way with characters, and boy are there plenty of those in this huge epic spanning the years of the first World War. He tosses the Russian Revolution into the mix and even adds women’s suffrage. And it all works.

I feel I can carry on a pretty intelligent conversation about WWII. I ‘ve read plenty of books on the subject. But it is WWI that I did not have much knowledge of. Until now. Since Follett actually has a full-time historian working with him I feel the stuff I learned in this book is good enough to get me through. And now I want more on the subject.

I will be looking forward to the next installment of the trilogy. I do hope that battle scenes can be edited down to a bare minimum. Maybe the next book can even be a mere 800 pages. Ha ha.

But I love the characters and will be anxious to know what they will be doing during the next segment which has just to to be WWII.

I did find a brand new book about the aftermath of WWI: THE GREAT SILENCE by Juliet Nicolson is just the ticket for those of us in need of more info. Take a look at the cover.


The aftermath

The Great Silence






I was wild to get my hands on a copy of this one. “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen had to be the most anticipated novel of the summer. The publisher was all out by the time I inquired about an ARC. But president Obama garnered one of those rare ARC’s from a book seller who thought he might enjoy it. I wonder if he did? We never heard.

Franzen set his contemporary novel in the mid west and NYC and places  along the east coast of  the United States. He gives us another dysfunctional family with the Berglands. Meet Patty and Walter and their troubled son and daughter. Then he throws in a guy they were close  friends with back in college. Now he’s an aging rock star. To this gaggle of humanity he shoves in the plight of an endangered song bird. And some other social issues.

Now, in his defense, I will say I loved his first book, “The Corrections”. Loved it. It is brilliant. I liked this one. But I did not love it. Where he lost a big part of me was with the simpleton character of the wife, Patty. Thankfully, the rest of the story survived. I read an interview with Franzen where he discusses the writing of both books. The first book is based on real people; even family. The second book was much harder to pen since he had to pull these characters kicking and screaming from out of nowhere. And it shows. I am not so sure he even likes these people. But, nontheless, he is a brilliant writer. I would read anything he writes. We have much to learn from writing like this. God only knows what on this earth he will write about next. But, I will be reading it!


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