Charleston

Jakes, John

Published by Signet, 2003
ISBN 10: 0451207335 / ISBN 13: 9780451207333
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Synopsis: Charleston follows the lives, loves and shifting fortunes of the unforgettable Bell family from the American Revolution through the turbulent antebellum years to the savage defeat of the Confederacy-and represents America's premier storyteller at his very best.

Review: Though at times a historically illuminating work, Charleston, bestselling author John Jakes's fictional retelling of the title city's early history through the Civil War, remains a largely uninspiring drama. Charleston offers an account of the burgeoning city from the perspective of the fictional Bell family, whose British immigrant predecessors arrive in Charleston in 1720. The story of the family's lasting, influential link to Charleston begins with Edward, whose political ideas during the Revolution put him at odds with the town's largely loyalist population, including his brother Adrian. Edward fights bravely in the Revolution, joining an effective band of hit-and-run fighters, but is later murdered by a jilted, mentally ill lover. Charleston then leaps forward, following the fortunes of Edward's granddaughter, Alex, who adopts Edward's liberal, abolitionist views, and begins a romance with lifelong black friend Henry. As slave-revolt paranoia heightens in the South, Alex watches Charleston become an isolated, violent police state, and eventually travels north, becoming a songwriter for the abolitionists and a witness to Charleston's downfall. Jakes combines fictional characters with meticulously researched historical settings and figures to give the events of Charleston context, significance, and immediacy. But rather than relying on the simple power of history, Jakes distracts from the narrative with clumsy metaphors and exaggerated characters. --Ross Doll

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Title: Charleston
Publisher: Signet
Publication Date: 2003
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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