Sunday, April 11, 2010

32. City of Dreams by Beverly Swerling

I have been very interested in reading this book as the history of New York is just so interesting to me.  The story begins with Lucas Turner and his sister, Sally, as they leave England to travel to the New World in 1661.  Lucas is a barber surgeon and Sally is an apothecary.  The two have a falling out; and the book follows the family feud down through the years to just after the revolutionary war.  Both families include physicians and surgeons (I had no idea there was so much antipathy between these two studies); and there is a lot of graphic description of crude medical practices of that time.  Looking back from my standpoint in modern times, it was appalling how people were treated and amazing that so many survived the crude and barbaric things that were done because they didn't know any better.  Actually, the medical history was probably my favorite part of the book.  I found the change from one character and storyline to the next to be way too abrupt.  Often you would follow one character and then it was ten years later with no really satisfying conclusion to what happened before.  Some historical facts were included:  how the city grows to the north on Manhattan island, for example; but not enough.  My main problem with the book is the amount of sexual content.  I found it way over the top and way too much detail.  Plus I couldn't really relate or like too many of the characters.  And the ending leaves you hanging.  Never a good thing in my opinion unless there is a sequel, and that is pushing the envelope for me.  I had high hopes for this book, but ultimately, I was disappointed.
Rating:  2.5

1 comment:

  1. Framed, I tried reading this book several years ago. I found parts of it really fascinating, especially the medical parts. Like you though, I became disenchanted and ended up not finishing it. I really wanted to like it so much.