My Best Read of 2019

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

“The Historian” by Elizabeth Kostova.

THE GOOD

This is a book I’ve been meaning to read for a long while based on my favourite youtuber’s recommendations. It took me a loooooooong time to finish it. I think I had borrowed it in September/October? and finished it just now (first week of January). My excuse is that:

a) I am a slower reader, but also

b) this book requires your utmost attention.


I didn’t feel like it was a book I could just be reading during 30 minute breaks. Like I needed a solid few hours to do this book justice. I think part of the enjoyment of this book comes from your imagination, which is almost a necessity in order for this book to fully be enjoyed. Luckily I have a huge imagination and was able to be satiated by all the details Kostova wrote in this book. This book is not about vampires, per se. It’s more about history that surrounds their origins.


The genre is a mix of history, thriller, mystery, and travel. Kostova is such an incredible writer, and even though this book is fiction, a lot of her writing plays out as being completely true or convincingly true, at least for people like me who are not super well versed in the wider realm of European history. This book, I think, educates the reader on a lot of history - not the popular Roman or British empire stuff - but more of the Eastern European stuff that spans into the Ottoman existence. It really opened me up to a world beyond the trendy Paris’ and modern London’s. The way Kostova writes and creates strong imagery really made me want to travel to many of these places: Slovenia, Hungary, France, Italy, to name a few.


THE BAD

The downfall of this book is that maybe there may be too much of a reliance on the imagination. Some historical references may not make sense or may be hard to believe. Additionally, I think at some points there was too much historical reference that it became a bit dense to read at times. But at the same time, that goes to show her attention to detail and importance for creating accuracy around the setting created for her story. Something else I found problematic were the voices she used. The majority of the story is told by a man and his daughter - bouncing back and forth in different timelines - with the exception of some letters narrated by different characters. But I didn’t feel that there was too much of a voice change. I think often times I mistook the daughter for being the dad, if it wasn’t for obvious descriptions. But there was no big difference in the way Kostova styled their voice, which I would’ve liked to have a distinct change.


Albeit, loved this 676 page book. May have been my favourite read of 2019.

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