The Historian for September 23: The Midway Point

“The Camera was quiet this morning, nearly empty, and we hurried up a polished staircase to the macabre niche where we’d surprised my father the day before. I swallowed a threat of tears as we entered the tiny room; hours ago, my father had been sitting here, that strangely distant look veiling his eyes, and now I didn’t even know where he was.” (p. 171)
It’s hard to say what I like best about this novel. Is it the relationship between the father and daughter? The strong tea served in porcelain pots they enjoy together across Europe? Is it the libraries, such as the Radcliffe Camera above, filled with papers and maps, card catalogs and research? Or, is it simply the mystery itself of Rossi’s disappearance, perhaps abduction, and our heroine’s father slowly disclosing the horrible tale before he, too, disappears? His is a tale which involves Dracula and crypts, menacing shadows and bashed in heads, obscurely veiled letters and mysterious disappearances. Not to mention little books with drawings of dragons left on library tables.
I eagerly plunge ahead, unable to wait until October 14 for the final posting. Even though I’ve read this charming and suspenseful novel before, it does not disappoint.
In fact, it makes me long to visit Istanbul, and the remote places of Romania, myself.
Find discussions at the midway point on The Estella Society.
(Arti of Ripple Effects wrote a wonderful post on an ultra modern library in Toronto. As I read her words, and looked at her pictures, I was comparing that library with the ones described by Elizabeth Kostovo in The Historian. The traditional library with classic lines is where my heart is most closely aligned. But it’s interesting to consider all types. Do you have a favorite?)

17 thoughts on “The Historian for September 23: The Midway Point

  1. It's so wonderfully atmospheric. I think one of my fave parts is being able to “visit” new-to-me places like Istanbul and Budapest. Places I rarely read about in books, though that may change in the near future. 🙂


  2. I truly enjoyed this book. I would say it was something I wouldn't normally pick up – Dracula and vampires are not my thing. I adored the descriptions, travelling through Europe, the history, the libraries, etc. Everything but the Dracula theme appealed to me. Glad you are enjoying it!


  3. It is indeed atmospheric, and I love the 'antique' quality (historical?) of paper rather than computer with which to conduct research. Old letters, old maps, old books…I guess anything old, and on paper, appeals to me.

    Are you telling me you're going to eastern Europe in the future?!


  4. I know! I think Dracula and vampires and I think of that Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer (blech!). But, this is an entirely different animal, well, a vampire still but a sophisticated one. And a tale within a tale. So love the chase through Europe to discover the truth (and resolution) of Professor Rossi's disappearance.


  5. Parrish, what a wonderful, charming, Tudor exterior! The inside is rather modern, but of course one can hardly expect it not to be in the 21st century. Thanks for leaving the link to one of your favorite libraries!


  6. You about make me wish I had joined in to reread this–I loved the library scenes! And the mystery. I'm with you too; I prefer the traditional classic library. Even after all my training in architecture, I still prefer the old designs to the new–the old style seems to be more human scale.


  7. It's not too late if you still want to join in! 😉 You have until October 14, officially, or whenever you're done. It's been a reread for me which I've totally enjoyed. Ant believe I forgot the ending which I'm racing toward even now as I sit in bed blogging and reading,


  8. Great that you are enjoying this reread 🙂

    Btw, my friend just returned from Romania yesterday and she was very disappointed with Transylvania. Sadly unatmospheric, and very touristy 😦

    Maybe some places are best visited through books?


  9. How interesting to know that Transylvania was not found as expected. How often does that happen, what we anticipate fails what has been hoped for? I felt the same way in visiting southern Italy and finding more Americans than Italians. Indeed, books might be the most reliable in many cases.


  10. I too am enjoying all the different libraries described in the book. I rarely travel, so this book is also an armchair travel adventure full of stuff I like – libraries and local cuisine.

    As this is a reread for me, I am catching several smaller things that I missed the first time around and also reacquainting myself with the book as it has been a few years since I last read it.


  11. It's a reread for me, too, having read it when it was first released around 2005 or so. I can't believe how much I'd forgotten, so it was rather like reading it for the first time. I do remember that it was the impetus for me reading the original Dracula by Stroker. Doesn't it make you want to travel?!


  12. I thought the photograph of the Radcliffe Camera particularly fitting to the mood of this novel; sadly, I didn't take I myself but give credit when you click on it. It's near the last third where you might wish to rush ahead as I did to reach the conclusion. But, maybe not!


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