Ever since reading Ken Follett's Eye of the Needle, I've been an ardent admirer of his ability to tell a story that holds the reader from beginning to end. He was only 27 when he wrote this suspense novel that put the reader on the edge of his seat more than once. There have been new releases on this book which was originally published in 1978 under the name Storm Island. The author is Welsh and he has published many more books making his name easily recognized by the reading public in many countries.
What amazes me about this author is that he writes suspense novels and historical tomes and plain good stories to read. Not just one genre. I suppose we should call him gifted. I might also add patient as the amount of research that goes into his historical novels is astonishing and time-consuming. Once he became a top-selling author, he was most likely able to hire a research team to get the information he needed to write the books.
His latest work is a trilogy that follows members of five intertwined families in England, Germany, Russia, United States and Wales through the twentieth century. We watch the characters during the WWI years, the WWII years and in the final book, the tumultuous 1960's to 80's. Needless to say, it is a fair amount of time between the publishing dates of the three books but it is not a problem. Once I started on Book 2, the characters and the things that happened in Book 1 came back to me easily--thanks in part to excellent writing. The same has occurred in Book 3.
I am a fan of historical novels because I enjoy history but find that it is of greater interest to read a well-researched novel about an era rather than a nonfiction textbook. I'm a people person and want more than the facts of what happened in the world during a particular time period. I like knowing how the things that happened affected people around the world. The Century Trilogy gives me both the history and the people, although they are fictional. Still, they are representative of those who lived in the time period.
Be forewarned--these books are in the 1000+ page variety. I have not found that to be a problem. In fact, when I finished the first two lengthy books, I immediately wondered how soon the next book would be out as I had the desire to keep reading. I'm in the middle of Book 3 now and know I'll be sad when the final page is turned.
Another favorite book by Ken Follett is Pillars of the Earth which follows five families through the building of a cathedral. I found the story and the educational information fascinating. I have visited many cathedrals in Europe since reading that book and I know that it gave me a far greater appreciation of how these magnificent edifaces were built.