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A lot to take in
on 28 July 2014
I would not have personally have chosen ‘The Son’; but Book Clubs operate on that principle, regularly setting you reading something you wouldn’t normally pick up, often to very good effect. So, yes, I was on foreign soil from the start, I didn’t know anything much about Texas, Cowboys and Indians, well only from the tv, and I certainly don’t feel comfortable with much violence for the sake of it. This area was to be a test too far for my good will towards new subjects.
Philipp Meyer has, in my opinion, written more for hardened perhaps masculine tastes than for a female audience. Most of his reviewers are men. Sustained, terrible, bloodthirsty deeds pepper every page and paragraph. There is barely a chapter without murder, mayhem and misery. Terrifying torture, just for circus style entertainment; scalpings, dis-embowellings, shootings with arrows and bullets, hangings, piles of dead children, repeated rapings, burnings and and blindings. Accept this as best you can, and you may not mind so much, but it got to me because it never ever stopped. I think ‘The Son’ should carry an X certificate and a strong warning. Another hint, don’t read this before sleep. Nightmares may follow.
And worse, the book itself is also butchered. Chopped up mercilessly into three life stories; those of Eli, his son Peter and Jeannie, Eii’s granddaughter; time sweeps back and forth in random chunks, with no apparent structure. There are seventy-two chapters, which took me just under six hours to read. That was despite my kindle scaring me from the start with a prediction of thirteen hours in book. I read fast.
Even though I hated it, you’ve guessed, I learnt a lot. The way of life for the various tribes; nationalities and settlers is deeply researched and impressive. I give credit to the author for all that. I wish there had been a glossary as there are whole reams of words and references that needed explanation. The kindle version doesn’t support a family tree, for the seven generations of McCullough’s, I found one in the look inside feature on the amazon page which helped. As did the reviews by other readers, which I was referring to for help to keep me going.
For your information I am a lady in her sixties who reads over a hundred books a year – I am not prudish but I do have sensitivities as hopefully most people will admit to. The huge, wide-ranging story told in ‘The Son’ is not just a fiction, it’s based on facts, some apparently incorrect but the actions described are part of the history of Texas. For this reason I say it is a valuable work but for myself I am just glad to have got through it.