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Human Traces Paperback – 6 Jul 2006

3.7 out of 5 stars 132 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (6 July 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099458268
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099458265
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 4.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 25,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"An extraordinary novel of magnificent scope" (Evening Standard)

"Faulks is beyond doubt a master" (Financial Times)

"His most ambitious novel yet... Love, loyalty, courage, compassion, goodness...these are the poles around which his always skilful storytelling revolves" (Independent)

"Shocking and enlightening...touching and affecting" (Daily Mail)

"He is the best novelist of his generation" (Scotsman)

Book Description

Reissued in new series style to match Faulks's most recent novel Where My Heart Used to Beat, which was a major Sunday Times bestseller in 2016

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Unfortunately I have to agree with the comments from the reviewer below - far too much detail. I started Human Traces eagerly and found it to be very interesting, particularly the descriptions of typical mental asylums in the 19th Century. But…. after about 200 pages my interest started to wane. I don’t wish to do the author a disservice as the time and effort Faulks has spent researching psychiatry is clearly evident and incredibly impressive, however I picked this book from the shelf thinking it was going to be an interesting (and, knowing Faulks, possibly thought provoking) work of fiction, not a dissertation on the history of mental illness. But unfortunately that’s what it turned out to be. At certain points Faulks literally transcribes speeches and lectures from the characters regarding their thoughts on psychiatry; one of which lasts for 22 pages!
Aside from that, I did enjoy the plot and enjoyed seeing how life treated Jacques and Thomas over the years. Ultimately this is a very interesting book and I’m sure those who have a particular interest in the field of neurology and psychology would hugely enjoy this book, but it was just too didactic for my liking.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was recommended to me, but before I started reading it I foolishly read some of the reviews on Amazon. This put me off starting it and then while I was reading it I kept waiting for it to become hard going or boring. It never did. I will say as others have said that sometimes the text and ideas are hard to follow and need reading over a couple of times, but these sections only last a few pages and soon you are back reading the beautiful family saga which the book ultimately is.

Sebastian Faulks has taken his obvious interest in the thoughts and philosophies of humans and woven them into a deeply human and touching story. I loved all the characters and cared for them. It was one of those books which I couldn't wait to get to bed to read and woke up early in the morning to see what would happen next.

It explores what it means to be human which although set in the past is very relevant to today. It gives insight into scientific research and the ways that new ideas are put forward then discounted or fall out of fashion. It made me realise that we are still a long long way from understanding the human mind one hundred years later.

I thought the ending was perfect and very satisfying. An incredibly rewarding book which makes you marvel at the skill of the writer.
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Format: Paperback
I got this at Christmas, and have just finished it five months later, which gives you an idea of how motivated I was to keep reading it! Not that it's bad - it had many interesting parts, and definitely got better as it went on. I just found that for the most part, the main objective of the book was an exposition of psychiatry and psychoanalysis around the beginning of the 20th century, with a novel tacked on the side. Really, to hold the reader's interest, it should have been the other way round - the novel, with its characters, themes, narrative to the foreground, and to explore the medical themes within that framework.

As it was, I found the characters dull and flat, and the narrative drive non existent - for much of the book, there was no drama, no conflict - everyone's lives went by without anything particularly interesting happening apart from medical lectures and patient examinations, much of which I have to admit I found just far too technical to really want to read.

A shame, because it is obviously very well written, and the good bits really held my attention. By far the best section of the book was Thomas's visit to Africa, which was interesting both in terms of what would happen and whether the expedition would make it back safely, and in the discovery of the footprints and Thomas's subsequent discourse on our ancestors and the voices they heard, which was both amazingly thought-provoking and incredibly moving. Daniel's experiences in the war were also a highlight - as was Thomas's announcement to the family that he has Alzheimer's, which was the most moving part of the book.

So in summary - all the bits in lecture halls or consulting rooms: too technical. All the bits about the idyllic life in the schloss: too boring. Everything else: great!
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Format: Paperback
I'm a fan of Sebastian Faulks, through time I've managed to read all his other books so when i saw this one on the shelf i quickly picked it up. Having just finished it, I have to say i was disappointed.

Though i thought the idea of the story was good and i did get into the first chapters, there were pages and pages of waffle! I was at a loss to find myself reading entire chapters on medical psychological philosophy! I felt the changes in the characters were poorly explained and the ending was terrible! Parts of the book were good & did engage me and I felt I could appreciate what he was desperately trying to convey through the character but in the end I found myself frustrated.

What a waste of a good story line and a potentially fab read.

I've thoroughly enjoyed his previous work and would recommend the Girl at the Lion D'or & The Fatal Englishman, but sadly Human Traces doesn't come near Faulks previous excellence!

I hope he comes back with a book that matches his earlier style & elegance.
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