Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sarah Vowell 'The Wordy Shipmates'

Not only did I find The Wordy Shipmates again but I finally finished it. I also went away to Brooklyn for the week-end to visit my best friend from college and helped my husband put together the kids school supplies, so I've been busy. :)

The Wordy Shipmates lives up to its title, it's wordy. I couldn't help it! It was too good to pass up. Seriously, Ms. Vowell managed to get me involved in the theological hair splitting of the Boston Puritans (not the Plymouth Rock Puritans, but the 'city on a hill' Puritans) She's funny and irreverent enough to keep you going through the seemingly endless pamphlet wars and the names that all start with J. She is also a good enough historian to draw out interesting strands of our modern day cultural and political inheritance from these original settlers. It helps me to like the book that I'm pretty darn sure I agree with her modern politics; in a word, liberal.

However, slightly past the half way point in the book, it lost a lot of the humor and when I expected the historical narrative to make up for it, it didn't. I did not find Anne Hutchinson's story so riveting that it could carry me through to the end. Nor were Ms. Vowell's insights so fascinating or so humourous that I couldn't put the book down. I put it down. A lot. I finished it, but more to be able to tell Kate that I finished it, than on the merits of the book itself.

I liked the book, it's an interesting read, I'm glad I know more about the pilgrims and their American legacy. However, unless you really enjoy reading history for it's own sake, you'll enjoy the first half more, and skipping the second half is not going to appreciably negatively impact your life.

4 of 5 exiled visible saints.

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