Saturday, June 27, 2015
THE HISTORIAN by Elizabeth Kostova
The Historian is Elizabeth Kostova’s debut novel, and it is a wonderful book. It is a historical thriller replete with mystery, adventure, and a touch of the other worldly. I listened to the audio recording of The Historian, made by a “cast” instead of just one reader. Although I enjoyed the audio, I wish that I had actually read the book, due in part to some of the names used and the complexities in the twists and turns of the plot.
Certain academic historians were “given” an old book – each book was old and blank but for a wood cut of a dragon at the center. Each was somehow connected to Vlad the Impaler, who was also known as Dracula.
A teenage girl found her father’s copy of this book, along with some letters. She confronted her father who then slowly told her his very long and convoluted story. His story involved his graduate advisor and mentor who went missing, the mentor’s story about his own book and research, and a young woman who joined the father in his search for the mentor. As the daughter also did her own research on Vlad, the book contains at least three levels, or time periods, of feverish searching for information about Vlad and for his remains.
The history – and historical process – involved in The Historian is fascinating. And, it is not, in a sense, just one history, but rather involves a number of historical time periods. The book also references a number of historical places, as the story takes us into many countries, including England, Hungary and other Eastern Bloc countries, and Turkey.
The story is interesting and draws you in. Even though the plot, at times, feels like it may be a little “out there”, the many twists and turns keep you in the story.
I loved the history. But, I also enjoyed the sense that I had an inside view of the historical process. The plot was complex and convoluted, and I was totally lost in this book. It was a wonderful experience, and I thoroughly enjoyed The Historian.