Sunday, May 6, 2012
Book Review of #1 Homeland by John Jakes
Author: John Jakes
Publisher: Bantam book
Part of a Series: Crown Saga
Type of book: Germany, 1890-1900, America, Spanish revolution, immigration, brewing, movies, flickers, panorama of American life, true love, reverse-Cinderella story
Year it was published: 1993
As America hurtles through the final explosive events of the nineteenth century, a young German immigrant named Pauli Kroner is about to realize his dream. He will taste a life of privilege in the Chicago mansion of his uncle, Joe Crown, head of a brewery dynasty. But Pauli's ultimate clash with that stern, proud patriarch will force him to a risky existence on the city's dark side. Here he will become Paul Crown, a bold, ambitious man driven by a powerful vision. His rise from penniless newcomer to pioneer newsreel cameraman will span a tumultuous decade of strikes, war, family scandal, and heartbreak in the country he has chosen as his...
The characters are interesting and with one exception they don't seem to change. In someways I have a difficult time seeing the bravery that Juliette possesses, or how Paul changes throughout the ten years, at least personality wise. The characters that does show visible change is Joe Sr, and if other characters do change, to me its not visible and the author doesn't really utilize these changes into the narrative.
Paul tries to find homeland in America, and lesson that can be gleaned is through hard work and tears, one can find their true home.
Its in third person narrative from multiple characters' points of view. In my opinion the first half of the novel is explosive and I read through quickly. When I got to latter half, it became torturous and boring. I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of war and don't care much about it, and it struck me that the author kept dragging and dragging through the book, as if he didn't want to say goodbye at an appropriate time. I heard that in sequel, although I read it years and year ago, the ending that was presented in Homeland is pointless and the author changed a lot of vital details. I'm not sure, but that's what I heard.
March 31, 1932 in Chicago, The United States
About this author
AKA Jay Scotland, Alan Payne, Rachel Ann Payne & J.X. Williams
John Jakes is the acknowledged contemporary master of the family saga. He is the creator of the legendary eight-volume Kent Family Chronicles, the Main and Hazard families of The North and South Trilogy, and the Crowns of Chicago, German-Americans whose stories interweave the history of the twentieth century in Homeland and its sequel, American Dreams. His 2002 novel, Charleston, returned him to the turbulent years of the Revolution and the Civil War, and became his sixteenth consecutive New York Times bestseller.
Praised as "the godfather of the historical novel," "the people's author," and "America's history teacher," Jakes mingles the lives of his fictional characters with those of historical personages, and involves them in the great events of U.S. and world.
His devotion to a unique blend of strong storytelling and historical accuracy has won him a worldwide audience. More than 55 million copies of his Kent Chronicles are currently in print, along with nearly 10 million copies of The North and South Trilogy. Six of his major novels have been filmed as television mini-series. The first North and South production (ABC, David L. Wolper Productions, 12 hours) stands at 7th position among the 10 highest rated miniseries of all time.
Born in Chicago in 1932, John Jakes began writing professionally during his freshman year at Northwestern University, where he was studying acting. He decided to trade the stage for the typewriter when, at age 18, he sold his first story for $25. "That check changed the whole direction of my life," says Jakes.
He enrolled in the creative writing program at DePauw University, graduated in 1953, and in 1954 earned an M.A. degree in American literature from Ohio State University. After completing school, Jakes spent his days writing copy for a large pharmaceutical corporation, then several advertising agencies, including Dancer Fitzgerald Sample, one of the world's largest. At night he wrote and published short stories--eventually 200 of them, along with some 60 books in genres such as mystery, western, and science fiction.
In March of 1973, Jakes began work on The Bastard, first of the eight volumes of The Kent Family Chronicles. The series, depicting American history through the lives of a fictional family, became the publishing industry phenomenon of America's Bicentennial decade. All eight volumes were bestsellers. In 1975, with the publication of volumes II, III, and IV, Jakes became the first author ever to have three books on the New York Times bestseller list in a single year. New American Library has published new editions of the series; each volume, the author had written a new introduction.
North and South, the first book in Jakes's celebrated Civil War trilogy, was published in 1982, Love and War in 1984, and the concluding volume, Heaven and Hell, in 1987. All three were number one bestsellers, and were made into top-rated ABC Novels for Television miniseries.
California Gold was published in 1989, and 1993 saw publication of Homeland, the first of a new cycle of novels about a fictional family in the twentieth century. Homeland was named by the New York Times as one of its "notable books of 1993." The Crown family saga continues in American Dreams.
John Jakes holds honorary doctorates from five universities, the most recent from Ohio State. In 1995 he received the National Cowboy Hall of Fame's Western Heritage Literary Award for his short story Manitow and Ironhand, now collected in the anthology of Jakes stories, The Bold Frontier.
Also in '95 he was recipient of a dual Celebrity and Citizen's Award from the White House Conference on Libraries and Information, for speaking and writing on behalf of America's public libraries. In 1996 he became the tenth living inductee of the South Carolina Academy of Authors, and in 1997 he received the Professional Achi...
This is my second time reading this novel. The first time I read it was when I was a teenager, and second time I finished few days ago. It's about 1200 pages long, and I'm sure that a lot of history buffs will enjoy perusing through the pages and reading about the wealthy and poor side of Chicago. It seems that there's very little the author excludes. He does try to make it inclusive, but not to the extent that one desires it. There's barely any mention of Rosie, Joe Jr's girlfriend, and I don't really understand how she's supposed to represent Pullman and the strike. I don't see it, sorry to say. Joe Jr represents workers' rights The boring part for me started was when Paul began to have success and then there was war and journey to Cuba. Although the author tried his best not to have that, I guess war books bore me. There is also sense of disbelief for me in terms of Juliette and Paul; people normally move on after such a long time...although I guess he was trying to make the novel appeal to women would be my guess.
3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)