Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Literature Corner - Epic Novels

I love fiction, but some novels are so epic that they seem daunting to even an advanced reader However, to make these novels seem a bit more manageable keep in mind that their epic size merely means there’s probably an epic story with great characters that will stay with you a lifetime (okay, and they’ve probably been made into movies).

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

This is a truly epic story that has produced a movie, sequels, prequels, a Pulitzer, and a mini-series about life, love, and travel across the wild frontier. The story focuses on a rogue group of characters including old army rangers, drinkers, an orphan, and even a prostitute traveling from the small town of Lonesome Dove, Texas all the way to Montana to start a cattle ranch and all the adventures that happen along the way.

I have read this book twice and I still love all 900 pages and all of the characters. After you’ve read the book, definitely check out the movie starring Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Duvall, and Rick Shcroder. Even if you’re not a fan of Western novels or Terms of Endearment, Lonesome Dove is worth checking out.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Rhett Butler's People by Donald McCaig

Margaret Mitchell’s book has always been a classic and so is the Academy Award winning movie. I often joke that everything I know about the Civil War came from reading Gone With the Wind, which is true. There’s no better way to understand the people and society of Civil War times than to read this book about pride, diligence, love, and society.

There have been a few prequels/sequels/companion books to this novel, but the newest is Donald McCaig’s Rhett Butler’s People, which is a companion novel that allows readers to understand more about Rhett than any other book. We get to see a different side to the happenings of the original (but there’s absolutely no substituting the original!)

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

While not nearly as epic as the other novels, The Historian is a great, deep story rich in history, fiction, and great characters including Dracula. This isn’t Bram Stoker’s Dracula, this is the story of a young woman looking into her past that includes Vlad the Impaler. This book mixes history, romance, and suspense into a great novel that you won’t soon forget.