Saturday, 3 January 2009

Historical Fiction audiobook

Finished January 2
The Given Day by Dennis Lehane, performed by Michael Boatman
I've been listening to this for a while on my commute (it is 20 CDs!) and enjoying it thoroughly. It is definitely an emotiona read, causing me to feel sadness and rage at various points in the book. The novel follows a couple of characters with depth, with additional appearances by Babe Ruth throughout. The action takes place in 1918 and 1919, mostly in Boston, but also in Ohio and Tulsa, Oklahoma. One of the main characters is Danny Coughlin, a beat cop in Boston. Danny's father is a captain in the police force who has ambitions for Danny. Danny has always thought for himself, and becomes involved in the newly formed police union. Danny also becomes involved in an investigation into radical movements, including both unions and anarchists. Danny finds it difficult to conform to the opinions of his elders when he listens to the issues of the people he works and lives with.
Luther Laurence is a black man from Ohio. He moves to Tulsa with his girlfriend, who soon becomes his wife and makes some bad choices. Fleeing from Tulsa after a confrontation with a crime boss there, Luther ends up in Boston, working for the Coughlin family. Danny befriends him and Luther also form a friendship with the Coughlin's other servant Nora. Even in Boston, however, Luther cannot escape his past and he must deal with new dangers as well as work out how to make his way back to Tulsa, where his wife awaits their first child.
This novel is an epic one, covering events from the great flu epidemic, to the molasses flood, to the terrorist threat and labour unrest in Boston. One gets a great sense of the issues of the day and the feelings of the characters when faced with them. Throughout the book, the main characters keep their hope, despite all that befalls them, and it is that hope that really brings out the emotions I felt.
This is a wonderful book, and one that touches on current issues as well as those in the past.

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