Monday, September 28, 2020

Book Review: "A Traveler at the Gates of Wisdom" by John Boyne

A Traveler at the Gates of Wisdom is a sweeping look at love, family, history, and destiny.

Have you ever read a book that you felt you couldn’t describe properly? That’s definitely the way I feel about John Boyne’s newest book. What I can say, however, is once again, his storytelling blew me away.

We start at the dawn of time, 1 AD. A baby is born to a warrior and his wife, amidst his father’s acts of violence. The baby has an older brother, who mostly resents him.

The story shifts as time passes, changing locations, names, certain facts, but the general thrust of the story remains the same, as if to say that what is destined will happen no matter who or where you are. We travel through history, getting glimpses of historical figures and events through time, all the way to the future.

At times this felt more like interconnected short stories than a cohesive novel. This was an interesting concept and I loved what Boyne has to say, that no event or emotion is unique to just one person. In the end, though, I don’t know that this worked for me as much as I hoped it would. But his storytelling transcended it all, so much like I felt about Fredrik Backman's Anxious People, the writing elevated the book, in my opinion.

If you’ve never read Boyne before, please read The Heart’s Invisible Furies, The Absolutist, and A Ladder to the Sky.

NetGalley and Hogarth Books provided me with a complimentary advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making it available!!

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