Friday, May 27, 2016
History as a story
Because the novel covers more than 2,000 years, it necessarily becomes a series of related short stories, some better than others but all worth reading as much for the history they relate as for the stories themselves. Some characters hang around for two or three chapters, but eventually they are replaced, as in real life, by children and grandchildren who pick up the story. Rutherfurd's characters cover London society from the titled class to the servant class, sometimes within the same family. Family trees at the beginning of the book help the reader keep straight who is related to whom.
Both the novel's first and last chapters have the same title, "The River." The Thames is London's one constant, the only thing that has been there since the beginning and will continue long after the final page.