2019 Reading Challenge

2019 Reading Challenge
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Book Review: The Ghosts of Eden Park by Karen Abbott

This was a very entertaining – if a bit overly detailed at times – tale about Prohibition-era America. It’s a time-frame that doesn’t get as much attention as it seems like it should. It was, after all, a time of capital-C Characters, on both sides of the law, as well as money, drama, crime, and secrets – normally all topics that lend themselves to fabulous storytelling. In Abbott’s latest we get all of that in spades, including a fascinating peek behind the curtain of women in early 20th century American politics. It was a fascinating tale of wine, women and song and I enjoyed it – mostly.

I must admit that there were several points during which I found the story to lag rather substantially though. This seems to happen a lot in narrative non-fiction that includes courtroom drama. I think authors get overly enthused by the possibility of *actual*, transcript, dialogue in the form of the back-and-forth of attorney-witness interaction and feel compelled to include as much as possible. While I appreciate historical veracity, rarely is a trial as exciting as people think – there is a LOT of monotonous repetition (intentionally), and reading large swathes of it slows the pacing to the detriment of the story even if to the benefit of the historical record.

Still, Abbott has done a great job painting a portrait of a time and place that were dashing, violent, and full of enough hidden agendas to satisfy readers who enjoy a good twisty tale. If tighter editing could have evened out the pacing a bit, the narrative portions of the story (especially early on) more than hit their marks and it was an enjoyable read on the whole.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for my review copy.

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