I recently read City of Dreams and enjoyed author Martin's twist of history and mystery. The adventures of antiquarian Peter Fallon ("Indiana Jones in a monogrammed shirt") are both entertaining and educational. In this outing we are treated to the history of Harvard University and a missing work of Shakespeare. Along the way many seminal events in U.S. history are covered including the Salem witch trials, the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and the protest era of the 1960s.
I was fascinated by the story of commonplace books and their role in the novel. These are basically scrapbooks whose owners filled with them with items of every kind: medical recipes, quotes, letters, poems, tables of weights and measures, proverbs, prayers, legal formulas - basically they are aids for remembering useful concepts or facts.
Also interesting is Martin's take on the upper crust of Harvard through the years ("...some guys never get over the fact that they didn't get into Harvard, and some guys never get over the fact that they did"). Great lines abound throughout including: "To have order in society, there must be a chain of being", "I've always believed that any club is useless, unless it exists to keep somebody out", and the one that is key to the plot..."A man, he knew, would be known by his books."