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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Friday Book Review: Feast of All Saints


It's usual for a book review to be complimentary. Sometimes if a beloved author writes a book, you have trouble with something needs to be said. This is such a book. 

Feast of all Saints was a departure from Anne's usual horror genre. It was historical fiction. 

It's set in New Orleans before the Civil War and deals with a little-known aspect of the South. Free Men of Color. These were blacks who were not slaves. They acted as a sort of merchant class. They were second class citizens as many restrictions applied to them as a precursor to Jim Crow laws that came later, but they were free to own property and a business.

In the story a young man leaves his home. His white planter father pays for it as his Quadroon mother is his mistress.

He has come of age and his father has promised to send him to France for an education. His father doesn't have the money and his wife is adamant that he has nothing to do with this son. This naturally creates the conflict in the story.

The book was made into a mini-series and that's how I know the story, and it is a wonderful and important story.

When I tried reading the book, the first five pages described the young man as he dressed. Everything about the way he looked, article of clothing, his room and all within it. What was going on in the boy's mind and how anxious he was to meet his father and ask for him to keep his promise.

Another five pages describing him walking down the stairs, the type of wood, how many steps, the room he entered. 

Ten pages describing the door outside, the garden and all the plants as he's walking to the gate leading to the street, and then every house and their gardens... I gave up. Who cares that much about scenery?

The mini-series was a pleasure to watch, there actually was a story and one worthy of seeing. Maybe if I kept reading another twenty or more pages, I would have become interested, but the typical reader today would desert the book after five pages, at least I lasted twenty.

That was when I read every word of a book, today I scan and skip a lot of description to get to the meat of the story.

Anne Rice was from New Orleans, many of her Vampire and other books are set there. If feel she wanted the reader to see New Orleans of this time like she did. In a way it was her showing off the beauty of the city. Fifty years earlier and this wouldn't have been a problem. Description was highly valued by readers before movies and TV. Today its clutter.

  Description is needed to paint a picture of the person or surrounding for the reader, but minutia changes the focus to the setting and away from the character and story. 

I highly recommend the Vampire, Mummy, Body Thief, Mayfair Witches and other books by Anne Rice, she is one of my favorite authors.


Berthold Gambrel said...

As you know, I have the opposite problem when I'm writing; I have too little description and end up leaving things too vague. I think it's because I also get bored reading description, and even more bored when I'm writing it.

I should read an Anne Rice book sometime. Maybe I'll try one of her horror books for Halloween this year.

P M Prescott said...

I think you'll like her, but doing indy reviews is your strong suit.