This is essentially a character study of two very different people and the many small tragedies that make up a life. The characters are strong enough that about halfway through the novel, the big, important historical events stop being the focus, and the characters take the center stage. I loved this transition. I found the characters compelling and amusing. Both are deeply broken (and dead), but they are able to come to grips with their horrible pasts.
There is one problem that I had with the book. There was a tendency, especially during the first half, for the prose to get very complicated. I love all kinds of writing, but this got a little over done. There were passages that were more complex and hard to read than they needed to be. This wasn’t a deal breaker, but it is a real hurdle, in the sense that once you make it far enough, it is smooth sailing. There is no jumping involved.
Ultimately, I liked where the book was going the entire time, and by the end, the writing was much simpler. This really is a sweet story about two people. Sometimes, that is all you need to tell a good story. This is definitely a book that rewards your patience. I’m glad I stuck with it, and I think you will be, too.
Three Fugu Livers out of Five