The Rise & Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman
Rating: 3 Stars
Description: Tooly is perfectly happy running her bookshop in an isolated town in Wales. That is until a message from a former friend drags her back into the past that she worked so hard to forget. She finds herself on a reluctant journey to discover her past and solve the mysteries of those around her.
Why I Picked This Book: A thriller sounding book involving the owner of a book store in Wales. How could I pass it up? Plus, I liked the cover.
Cons: This book got off to a slow start. For the first 20% or so I could have easily put it down and never thought of it again. There's a lot of dialogue much of which seems pointless. The characters rant about politics or literature or other systems. There are 3 time periods being told at the same time. 1988 when Tooly is 9 years old, 1999 when she is 20 and 2011 when she is an adult living in over a bookshop. The chapters are short and for a long time it doesn't seem like anything is happening. You spend so little time with Tooly at each time period that it's hard to connect with her and be interested.
Pros: Until all of a sudden I found that I was interested. I had a better understanding of her and wanted to solve the mystery that was being hinted at if never full explained. We do get to see the characters' motivations except perhaps the mysterious Venn. I really sympathized with Tooly who gets dragged back into her past when she really just wants to be left alone to run her bookshop for as long as her money lasts. The ending unfolded very unexpectedly and in some ways was very sweet.
Overall: This was a really hard book to review because the story itself was so subtle. For the first half I planned on giving it 2 stars but as I got more involved I enjoyed it more and more. I enjoyed the last half of the book very much and found myself thinking about it when I was done reading it. I wish there had been less side dialogue and more that had actually had something to do with moving the plot along.
Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: I don't know. While I did end up really enjoying the book it took so long to get into it that I'm a little hesitant.
Would I Recommend this Book?: If you're in the mood for a quiet contemplative book this is probably a good choice. You definitely need to be in the right mood for it.