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The Pillars of the Earth

August 3, 2008


I just started reading “The Pillars of the Earth” without knowing anything about it except that it was by a “#1 New York Times bestselling author” and had a gorgeous cover. I’d heard some buzz about the book (it’s part of Oprah’s book club) and was looking forward to starting a long (973 pages) fiction by an author I hadn’t read before. For whatever reason, I had imagined it would be this great, innovative epic.

So far I was way off the mark. It’s a historical story, beginning in the 12th century, told in the usual fashion. I wasn’t expecting a historical novel at all (though who knows what my expectations were based on). I’m only about 100 pages into it, but so far, I’m not super impressed – actually, I’m a little unimpressed. The main reason is this episode (warning: slight spoiler ahead): The main character meets this woman who falls in love with him at first sight. It’s instant love – she tells him so herself, later. At the point where they’ve met once, briefly, and have barely exchanged words, she happens upon him in a forest. He’s sleeping, and then she’s on top of him, and they’re “doing it”…what? Wait, what just happened? It’s completely random, completely unromantic, and it interrupts Follett’s storytelling as I have to pause to think a) how that scene made little sense, and b) how I like both characters, and Follett, less for it. 

And yes, in the main character’s thoughts, Follett does refer to sex as “doing it”. I know they “did it” in the 12th century, but c’mon…

He also describes the woman has having a “hot” body. Reminds me of an awful translation of The Brothers Karamazov I read that repeatedly used the word “man” (“yeah, man”). Only this one’s not a translation. 

We’ll see if I make it though the rest. 


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