Sunday, January 04, 2015

From the Archives: Empire Falls by Richard Russo

I began keeping a reading journal several years before I began blogging. I find it interesting to sift through my thoughts of books that I read back then. My reviews were often brief and contained little substance, but I thought it'd be fun to document them here on my blog as well as share them with you. Here is one from October of 2005: 


Empire Falls by Richard Russo
Knopf, 2001
Fiction; 483 pgs

This is a difficult book to briefly summarize. It is about a small town in Maine called Empire Falls. The focus of the book is Miles Roby, the manager of the Empire Grill, a popular restaurant in the area, and his friends, family and acquaintances, as they struggle with life, the direction their lives have taken and with the relationships with those around them. Empire Falls is a town that once was prosperous but now is poor and people get by as best they can. 

This is one of those novels that moves slowly forward but is never boring. It is extremely well written. When I closed the book in the wee hours of the morning, I felt as if the story had come full circle. The last section of the book really packed a punch that wasn't found in the rest of the book, I have to say! Wow! 

In a way, I think the writing style reflected the type of town Empire Falls was and had become. The characters are very well drawn out, including their relationships with each other. This is one of those books that, had it been among those in my TBR room, probably would have stayed on the shelf for a long while if only because finding the right mood to read it may have taken a while. Because it was a Book Crossing bookring book, and I have to pass it along to the next person on the list, I read it sooner and am so glad I did. It's one of those reading experiences where I was left feeling very satisfied.


© 2015, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

22 comments:

  1. That review seems like it had a lot of substance and wasn't brief. LOL

    I've been keeping track of what I've read for over 20 years now - started in 1993. However, I did not write down thoughts or impressions. Many times, I've had a hard time remembering the book when I scan down the list. But, sometimes I have a hard time remembering what I read last month. I do enjoy looking back to see how my reading has changed over the years.

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    1. Kay - Thank you. I was motivated to write more about this one, I'm sure, because I loved it so much. :-)

      I wish I had started keeping track 20 years ago. I can only claim just over 11 years. I'm with you in not always remember what I read last month. When I go over my list of books read at the end of each year, I'm always surprised to see certain titles on the list, "I read that this year?"

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  2. This sounds very much like his novel Bridge of Sighs which was one of my favorite reads last year. It was slow but never boring! I felt like I really got to know the characters. I definitely have this on my list!

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    1. Iliana - Russo really brings to life his characters. I hope to someday read Bridge of Sighs. I still remember where I bought my copy of that book. Just haven't read it yet. :-)

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  3. This sounds like one of those novels in which the setting is a character in its own right. Great review! I'll add this to my list.

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    1. Irene - The setting really is a character in its own right. I hope you like it if you do read it.

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  4. I have heard a lot about Richard Russo's works, but have never read any of them. I will have to check this one out - it sounds very atmospheric and well-written.

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    1. Athira - I have meant to read more by, but still haven't. One of these days . . .

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  5. This is a Russo book that I read (saw the movie as well). I still have about 4 unread Russos on my shelves that I really should tackle. Have a great week back to work Wendy.

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    1. Diane - I need to read more by him as well. Thank you, Diane. I am hoping it will be a somewhat quiet week so I can ease back in. :-)

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  6. Sounds like a good book to be read. I'll have to check it out.

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  7. Glad you eventually got the wow factor. This sounds like a good all-rounder in that as well as the story of the town itself character development also sounds good.

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    1. Tracy - I loved this book and it was one of my favorites the year I read it.

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  8. I wish I could remember this better than I do. The only thing I know for SURE is that I really really liked it :D Hmmm..it might be time for a reread?

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    1. Jennifer - Reading my old review, it all came back to me. I'm not sure how much I would have remembered had I not jotted down some of my thoughts.

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  9. Oh I read this years ago and I remember liking it but it being slow. Now you have me wondering did it speed up at the end? I can't recall.

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    1. Susan - I don't know that the book sped up all that much, but there was definitely a tension filled moment towards the end that was of the nail biting variety.

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  10. This sounds interesting and is a book I've never heard of! I love reviews of books that aren't new releases because they're frequently books I've completely missed. I don't mind slow as long as it's interesting and this definitely sounds like it was. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Katherine - Yes, this one was definitely interesting. I'm so glad I read it.

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  11. I have this. I should read it soon, right?!

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    1. Lisa - If you want to. :-) I highly recommend it.

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