Sunday, January 17, 2010

Review: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

This has been an AMAZING weekend. I haven't had many responsibilities, other than a few AP Lit. essays to grade, so life has been sweet. In the midst of all that though, I have been thinking a lot about the earthquake in Haiti. When you live so far away, it can feel so overwhelming to know that people are suffering so horribly. Had I more money, an airplane, or even an airplane ticket, I could donate more of myself and my means to help. As it is, I feel this sense of sorrow and pain, knowing that all I can do is donate a few measly dollars, hoping that those who are managing these relief organizations get the money to those who really need it. Do you ever feel like you're just not bright enough to know how to do more?

As for reading, I read a magnificent chunkster of a book over Christmas, and I have been waiting to post my review. For what? Hmm...I don't really know, but I am still thinking about the characters in Pillars of the Earth, and a little sad that I'm finished with the book. I realize I'm a bit late to the bandwagon with this read, but I'm so glad I arrived at all.

Synopsis: Pillars of the Earth has been kicking around as one of those “have to” reads that I just didn’t make the time to read. Well, I noticed that the audiobook was available at my library and grabbed it. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I would be listening to this book for years if I didn’t put it aside and pick up the book! So, thanks to Christmas, I grabbed the old copy kicking around my mom’s place and tore through the last 350 pages. Let me just say, that it was a FANTASTIC read.

In this epic read, we are introduced to a multitude of characters from the middle ages in England. Tom Builder has aspirations to build the best cathedral in the land, also hoping to care for his starving family who has become destitute. In a strange turn of events, Tom begins work on a daunting cathedral project in Kingsbridge, under Prior Phillip. Together, they struggle to juggle God’s laws, and those of the land. There is intrigue, politics, in-fighting, battles, famine, crimes, love, and loss mixed into this epic read. We start with Tom the builder, but we move on to his children and their loves and losses.

Review: In general, it is nearly impossible to summarize a novel that is almost 1,000 pages. To say that it is a commitment, is putting it mildly, but so worth it. The novel spans decades, and follows characters that you grow to care about. There were characters I ached for, hoping for their happiness and safety, and others that I hoped would get their rightful justice. At times, I gasped, and even muttered my thoughts out loud. Unfortunately, that caused people around me to look at me with curiosity and even annoyance at times. Let me just say, I couldn’t help myself.

So far as epic, chunky novels are concerned, this was one of my favorites. I didn’t want the novel to end, and yet I couldn’t read fast enough to find out what would happen. The more I knew about certain characters, the more I wanted to see how their lives turned out. While I did get bored with descriptions of architectural outlines, I knew that they were the centerpiece for the story going on. I also skimmed some of the fight scenes, both because I’m a chicken and don’t enjoy violence, but also because they were pretty detailed and I could skim forward to the results. There were a lot of scenes of sensuality and rape, which were pretty hard to take at times, but once again, they created a connection to the characters that you don’t often get in shorter novels.

I really enjoyed The Pillars of the Earth and would recommend it to anyone who loves books like Gone With the Wind, The Thornbirds, Shogun, or any other lengthy epic, chunkster that pulls you in and won’t let you go. I’m so glad that I tackled this huge novel and can’t wait to dive into his sequel, World Without End. For more information, see: The Pillars of the Earth.

Also, since this is a book I've had on my TBR pile for over a year, it's a great start to my participation in the TBR Challenge. Yay! One accomplished. As for my next TBR novel, I'll have to consider on that one a bit. As a side note, I understand that this is going to be coming out as a TV miniseries some time in 2010.

What chunkster novels have you loved and couldn't get out of your head?

*This was a personal copy for review.


  1. I loved Pillars of the Earth! Now I'm just trying to get myself motivated to read World Without End. My mom got it for me for Christmas a year ago, so it's taking me a while. LOL You're right about it being a time commitment!

    Diana Gabaldon writes some chunksters, but I always love them. :)

  2. I'm so glad that you loved this book. It is one of my favorites! You must read the sequel, World Without End. I am giving a copy of it away on my blog. Here's the link:

  3. I read this book years ago and then reread it last year for my chunkster challenge. This year I want to read the sequel, World Without End, it's on my book shelf.

    Glad you liked it!

  4. This is one of those books that I feel bad for not reading-I may have to break down and read it this year.

  5. I bought a new paperback copy for $2 at the library book sale last summer and hope to get to it soon. So glad to hear you loved it!

  6. Wow, great review! I have this on my TBR pile but haven't read it yet; you definitely make me want to though! I have heard so many great things about this book.

  7. Well, I am really far behind because I haven't read this one yet and it's been on my shelf for eons! But after reading your review and being told that the third book is due out this summer, I'd better get moving on this. Loved how you lumped it in with GWTW and the Thorn Birds!!

  8. This is still on my TBR pile. That and Shogun. :P

    I don't know that I've ever been that into chunkster novels. I'll have to think about that one.