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The Archivist: 07/18/10

cover art

There seems to be a trend towards complex debut novels with multiple timelines, parallel structures and themes evolving across points in history. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. For me and the reviewer at Curious Bedfellows, The Archivist doesn't work.

Matthias Lane works at the Princeton archive that houses the T.S. Eliot papers. The letters of Emily Hale are sealed until 2020. A young poet, Roberta, who happens to remind Lane of his own wife (deceased) and of Emily Hale, asks to see the papers. He decides to show them to her (secretly of course) and that's how the novel begins to unfold.

I'm sure there are archivists who abuse their power to get in someone's pants but I so hated Matthias and his disdain his job that the rest of the novel just couldn't win me over. Then there was the over all "convenience" of the parallel time lines as the Curious Bedfellows review points out that just brought to the forefront the artifice of the novel to further sabotage my reading experience.

Comments (4)

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Comment #1: Sunday, July, 18, 2010 at 22:44:39

Michelle @ The True Book Addict

Oh dear. I just received this one a couple of weeks ago from BookMooch. Oh well...I'll still give it a go...eventually. It's not at the top of my tbr pile at present.

I've got a brainstorm about TuesBookTalk that I've been running by everyone. I'm going to send you an email about it. Has your schedule freed up any?

Comment #2: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 at 19:32:24


Most reviews have been very positive for The Archivist. I think I just know too many librarians to be taken in by the story. It's too far afield from how things are supposed to work.

Comment #3: Monday, July, 19, 2010 at 21:30:00

Becky (Page Turners)

What a shame you didn't like it. Hope you read a better book next time

Comment #4: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 at 19:37:13


I actually finished The Archivist late last year. The review I wrote for it just took a long time to come up when I chose reviews at random. Fortunately though most of my reading has been very good.

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