Friday, August 07, 2009

74. Charleston by Alexandra Ripley

Book Around the States Challenge
South Carolina
I had a hard time getting myself to read this book. My copy doesn't look this one, it looks like a potential bodice-ripper romance, so I was leary. Fortunately, the book deals with a great deal more than romance. It is 549 pages after all. Charleston begins in the waning years of the Civil War and moves through 1898. That's a lot of ground to cover, but I think Ripley did an outstanding job portraying this Southern city and it reaction to all the changes it had to go through during this time, including Reconstruction, freeing the slaves, a tycoon, and a massive earthquake. I found the history to be quite compelling and was glad to be able to learn more about this place and its culture. And, apparently, Charleston has a culture quite different from any other place on earth. The story mostly follows two main characters Pinkney Tradd and his little sister, Lizzie. Pinkney is a bit too good to be true. But then, so is Lizzie. While I enjoyed the historical aspects of the book, I couldn't quite get caught up in Pinkney's and Lizzie's lives. I just couldn't really identify with them. Since the Tradds belong to the upper class society of Charleston, even when they are on the verge of poverty, I was able to read about how their lives followed the old Southern chivalry and rigid sets of rules and manners. Sometimes, the ability they had to overcome adversity and maintain a certain civility was admirable; but I got tired of a general sense of superiority and pride exhibited by many of these people. I don't regret the time I spent on this book because much of it had value, but I won't be reading it again.
Rating: 3

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