Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Good Historical Fiction Book

I picked up Ken Follett's latest novel, Fall of Giants, at the library last week. I'd had it on reserve/hold for so long, I'd almost forgotten about it until the notice that it was ready arrived in my e-mail. The size of the book startled me, so I asked the librarian at the check-out desk how long I could have it. "Three weeks," she said.

I checked when I got home to see the number of pages. Almost a thousand! Well, nine hundred and eighty-five to be exact. With everything else going on in my life and the Thanksgiving holiday coming up soon, I wondered how in the world I would get it finished in only three weeks.

I had read only a few pages to know that I would be able to read the book in the allotted time. Ken Follett hooked me almost immediately. This book is the first in a trilogy that deals with the entire twentieth century. We're introduced to a large cast of characters which I found quite easy to deal with. The author follows the lives of five families in the pre-WWI days and moves on into the war years and the 1920's. We become familiar with families in Wales, England, Germany, Russia and America. Their lives intertwine in various ways, and without even realizing it, the reader is treated to a painless way to learn history. Follett's research teams must have worked overtime to make the historical events accurate in the telling of this story.

I find myself wanting to pick up the book and continue reading several times each day and evening. I'm a third of the way through the book and my interest has not waned one bit. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres to read, and Ken Follett has not disappointed me in this multi-family saga of a distinct period of World History. Love, war, the feminist movement--all are included in this intriguing story.

I'd definitely recommend it, and if many-paged books intimidate you, don't get it at the library. Purchase your own copy or put it on your Christmas List. It's a bargain at Amazon for $18. Order it at If you know someone who enjoys historical fiction, it would make a nice Christmas or Hanukkah gift--perfect for reading in the cold, snowy days of January.

I've written a few short stories that are classified historical fiction, but I can't imagine writing a book or trilogy of this enormity. I'm glad that Ken Follett has done so.

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