Top positive review
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`New York is the true capital of America.'
on January 21, 2010
This novel begins, in 1664, with a tiny Indian village and Dutch traders. It ends in 2009 with an epilogue. In between, the journey through the generations of the fictional families Mr Rutherfurd has created traverses many of the major events in the history of both New York and America.
From New Amsterdam as a Dutch trading settlement, through the period of British colonisation, and the War of Independence, the creation of the American nation, and the Civil War: these were the parts of the novel that held my attention most closely. This novel is about the evolution of New York, and the various families, characters and historical figures are important because they illuminate places, issues and times. This is not a history of New York, and some inaccuracies may aggravate those who spot them.
While I enjoyed the novel, I found the characters less engaging towards the end. The earlier parts of the novel were well served by Mr Rutherfurd's focus on the lives of families living through the historical events. By the end of the novel, the focus was almost entirely on one family and I found myself wondering about some of the others and the resolution of the issues they had been facing.
I think that this novel primarily depicts the historical development of New York from an economic and political perspective, and this makes sense when looking at a city over a period of nearly 350 years. An absorbing work of historical fiction: I'm glad I read it.