Sunday, November 04, 2007
The Gods of Newport by John Jakes
Friday, August 10, 2007
In my younger days, I read Jakes' series of "The Kent Family Chronicles" and "North and South." They were what I would call lurid historical romances and very good for that genre. "Gods" fits right along with those other books. This is a story of Sam Driver, a robber baron, and his daughter, Jenny, who set out to break into Newport high society. The ruthlessness of Sam's ambitions are interspersed with details of the ostentation and excesses of Newport during the 1890's. Jakes included some great stories about the out-of-control spending of the truly rich. Having visited Newport and gone on a tour of one of the mansions, I can easily believe how these people set themselves above normal morality and common sense. But it was fun to read of some of the more outlandish things that took place in that era. The book details Sam's rise to riches, his unsuitable marriage, and how reaching the pinnacle of high society enables him to marry Jenny off to nobility. The glitch is that Jenny has fallen in love with a poor Irish boy in Newport and that romance supplies the conflict for the book along with Sam's feud with long-time Newporter, Bill Brady. Maybe, this wasn't the right book to read after "A Thousand Splendid Suns" because I just didn't care for it over all. I thought the plot was unbelievable and Sam's motives too conflicting. The character of Jenny rarely made sense. At one time she is a sensible, self-possessed young woman, then she's falling in love with a boy she just met, finally she marries the Count who is obviously wicked. The flat characters and plot line didn't make up for the fun glimpse into the Gilded Era.
Posted by Framed at 7:37 AM
When I first started reading your review, I was excited to get my hands on this book. It sounded like a good premise and a fun read since we had visited Newport. In the end you convinced me not to bother. Maybe we can find a really good book about the Gods of Newport someday. That I would like to read.