Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Review: New York by Edward Rutherfurd

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Century, 2009

A great city........a great story!

From the empty grandeur of the New World to the skyscrapers of the City that Never Sleeps - four centuries brought to brilliant life by a master storyteller. Edward Rutherfurd is one of my favourite historical fiction writers, particularly when the subject is English history, but I did have some misgivings about whether the story of an American city would hold my interest. Portraying such a long time period an author has to be selective in what he chooses to focus on and I assumed, rightly,  that Wars and Wall St would feature prominently and neither are subjects I find very exciting.

The story begins with the early settlers in 17th century Dutch New Amsterdam and follows the descendants of Dirk van Dyck (the Master family) through the centuries . It may be because the emphasis is on business and wealth that none of the characters made a great impression on me and I never felt emotionally involved with any of them. I would also have liked to see the family stories of Dirk's Native American daughter and his black slave Hudson continue through the whole narrative but like many of the minor characters they are present for a while and then disappear.

It's the history that plays the leading role in this novel and the major events that shaped a city and a nation make for compelling reading. From fur trading to financial trading, the conflict between Loyalist and Patriot during the War of Independence later echoed in the Civil War, immigration, social changes and race prejudice are all subjects that, as someone with only superficial knowledge of New York and never likely to visit , I found interesting and informative.

I enjoyed the history..........the Master family bored me.
I enjoyed the book........but as expected not nearly as much as some of Edward Rutherfurd's other works like Sarum and The New Forest.

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N is for New York


  1. Ooh, is that the paperback cover? I like it! I started reading this book back around Christmas but ended up taking a break about halfway through. It's just so demanding to read such a big book, lol! I do like it so far too.. I agree with you I would have liked to know more about the native american daughter, but I like how the characters are used to help explain the history of NY.

  2. Yay or nay, I can't make up my mind, but nice review )

  3. I loved his book, Russka. He does write a long one though. Sorry that some of it bored you. Over a 1000 pages is a big reading commitment and you want to love it at that length not just feel like you are slogging through it. Have a great week!

  4. Great minds think alike! My post is going to be N for New York as well, but based on the books by Beverly Swerling. It should be up later this week!

  5. I loved _The Forest_--though I found that some sections appealed to me more than others, thought. My interest wasn't consistent from page one to page...oh, 753 or so :) Sounds like he may have followed some of the wrong stories for your taste, which I can relate to--thanks for posting!