No. 4 Imperial Lane11 Oct 2015
How an economics journalist builds such a gift for prose is beyond me, but I won’t question it, I’m just thankful Jonathan Weisman wrote this book. On its face, there’s very little that’s exciting or compelling about an unrealized American study abroad student and a rich English family, but over the course of this book they’re drawn out in complete colors. We become much more interested in them over time. The slight of hand Weisman plays by starting the book out through David’s eyes but then switching perspective for the majority of the book to Elizabeth’s experience in Africa pays off beautifully.
The writing, arguably the best part of the book, isn’t raw, exactly. In fact, it is very much in control. Weisman resembles more a talented race car driver behind the wheel of a powerful car rather than a teenager driving a car careening out of control. I don’t mean to insinuate, however, that Weisman is lacking feeling. In fact this book of full of feeling. The writing here feels like what the inner monologue of an introvert with a vibrant inner life may sound like. A lot of writers, when they write about big, sweeping themes, betray themselves as extraverts. Each style can be done well. Weiseman happens to do the introvert version very well
The book is pegged around some major world events. And they are important. The book wouldn’t be the same without its transnational components. But as a reader, you’ll learn far more about the relationships between the main characters in this book than anything else. And stepping into historical fiction is often more about the fiction part than the history, for me anyway.