|Image Credit: Pilethemon|
The title of this book is rather apt. World Without End. I felt while reading this was a Book Without End. Phew, after 1237 pages, perhaps, you dear reader would not chastise this reviewer for feeling so. There are so many reasons why we read but there are days when I can go without reading. Usually, when my mind is not at rest, as it has been the past one month, then I find reading to be a chore. Reading is a mental activity that is not all-consuming - it's not like a movie where you can forget the world outside. Reading is an intellectual activity, one that demands your mind, heart and soul - and when the three are not in tandem then the act of reading becomes a disjointed one. Which is why I struggled to finish any book that I picked up, including John Banville's The Sea, which fellow blogger Vishy urged me to read, but sadly which I had to leave temporarily. And then, I tried Jo from Bibliojunkie's recommendation, Yiyun Li's The Vagrants, only to return it to the library half-read.
And then, frightened that I was losing touch with reading, I turned to Ken Follett's World Without End. This was the author whose book, Fall of Giants was the first I read this year. I had enjoyed that book, and expected that a book that moves fairly fast, doesn't require you to concentrate hard would probably push me back into the reading habit. It did fulfill all those expectations. It is massive - but Follett can spin a good story, not one that will make you cry, but one that will keep you sufficiently intrigued to want you to keep turning the pages.
Set in the cathedral city of Kingsbridge, in 13th century England, I was immediately taken into a world of manipulation, deceit and politics - all within the sacred walls of the cathedral. Set against this, Folllet presents a long-drawn out love affair between Merthin, the town's most famous builder and Caris, once a dyer, then a nun and then the town's saint-in-chief as their unofficial medicine woman. I have no idea if the historical details are even remotely accurate, I really couldn't care to be honest, but it did present an interesting picture of life then. And I thought to myself that if it were true, nothing much has changed anyway. Men and women plot, scheme, manipulate and woo to achieve their dreams. Men and women will still kill for money, honor and glory. Men and women will continue to fight the ravages of illnesses and find Life's overarching angel Death always at hand.
I read too that this is supposed to be a sequel to Follett's most famous work, Pillars of the Earth. I haven't read that yet, although I may be tempted to. But World Without End can safely be read as a stand-alone work too. Would I recommend it? Yes. It's readable. It helped this brain-dead reviewer to regain her reading habit. And as a work of historical fiction, it's fairly engrossing. My quibbles? The length. Oh gawd...over 1000 pages? I skipped many passages, especially ones that went into great detail about scaffolding for churches and arches for bridges. The dialogue - well Follett makes no attempt to provide his readers with the kind of English that was spoken in the 13th century. I assume though that would probably detract from the readability of the novel itself.
I have been lax in commenting on other blogs/reviews. I promise to be back, reading all your reviews soon.
Verdict: Readable fare