Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Crescent City by Belva Plain has all the makings of a great historic saga: Jewish immigrants flee the poverty and persecution of 19th Century Europe for a life of luxury in the religiously tolerant boomtown of antebellum New Orleans; families are torn apart over the slavery issue and fight on opposite sides of the Civil War; there are loveless marriages, adulterous affairs, hoop skirts, burning plantations, and even blockage runners. Unfortunately, the book is still boring. It only skims the surface of the major events of the plot and the conflicts the characters face. It lacks the emotional depth and pure entertainment of the classic Gone with the Wind. It lacks the details of the really good historic epics, like John Jakes’s Kent Family Chronicles. It lacks the smutty thrill of a good bodice ripper like that 1970s gem, The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. Despite being over 500 pages long, Crescent City comes up short.