Top critical review
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Interesting but about 200 pages too long!
on 7 February 2006
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.