February 23, 2010 · 7:00 PM
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The next book for the February Meetup is The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. This is not a short read so be sure to pick up your copy today! Here is a what a fellow reader said about the book. I've never been a fan of Follett, and picked this book up with some misgivings - anyone these days can try to do an "historical" novel with some quick sex, some fake archaic new-speak, and a TV-movie-miniseries concept of history. While there are some minor flaws in this book, its sweep, characterization, tensions, and love of its subject are simply riveting. I could not put the darned thing down and have lost sleep for a week compulsively page-turning. Follett, unbelievably, seems to have made little splash with this book when it first came out - more shame to the critics who missed a "Gone With the Wind" from a conventional thriller author. His primary strength in the book is his magnificent characters. By the end, Prior Phillip, Aliena, Jack, Richard, "Witch" Ellen, William of Hamleigh, Waleran Bigod, and a host of supporting characters are as real as people you know. Their strengths and weaknesses feel as sound as earth. I've just reached the part where the Cathedral is finished, and its magnificent image, built in love, hardship, and devotion, colors the whole book like light through stained glass. And I suspect the ending will be as immensely "right" as the entire rest of the book in its proportion in spinning out complicated human lives and emotions. Follett manages to write of an age of religious devotion without tumbling into the two pits - making fun of medieval Christian faith, or uncritically adopting it. An IMMENSELY satisfying read. I could quibble with what I feel is some gratuitous sex, some slightly contrived plot twists, but that's like complaining about some flotsam in the river as you're going over Niagara. DO NOT MISS THIS BOOK if you love wonderful story-spinning and history. Well done, Mr. Follett!