The Rise and Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman

rise-and-fall-great-powersI know, it’s taken me forever to get to The Rise and Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman. What can I say, I was saving it for the perfect moment. The Imperfectionists is a hard book to follow, so I wanted to be in the right mood to give Rachman a little leg up. The Rise and Fall of Great Powers was a really good book, it wasn’t The Imperfectionists, but it was a solid read.

Every description of The Rise an Fall that I’ve read makes it sound like it is set in a quirky used bookstore in Wales. Well, it’s not. Not really. True Tooly, our protagonist, does own a bookstore, but she spends very little time in it. Instead, most of the novel recounts her journey to figure out who she really is. She had an unorthodox childhood, to say the least, and was bounced around from country to country living with eccentric adults who bore little direct relationship to her. It’s this searching for her past and learning more about why her life was like that that makes the novel exciting. There are certain mysteries to unravel and twists and turns along the way.

If you have read The Imperfectionists, it should come as no surprise that Rachman’s writing throughout is top-notch. I still prefer The Imperfectionists, but perhaps only because I read it first.

Who would like this book? The whole time I was reading The Rise and Fall, I couldn’t help but be reminded of The Goldfinch (review) by Donna Tarrt. I’m not exactly sure why this was the case and would love to know if anyone else felt the same way. Maybe it was because of the way unusual people roll in and out of the lives of the two protagonists? Or maybe it was because of their itinerant lives? Beyond that, I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good literary read. I think we will be hearing a lot about Rachman all year long and I expect to see him nominated for some big awards. What I’m really disappointed about is that he will not be at the Edinburgh Book Festival.

I was generously given a copy of this book by the lovelies at RandomHouse Canada for review consideration. As always, thank you!


  1. I just loved The Imperfectionists so much. I am really looking forward to reading this one but I know it’s not going to live up to his first. That’s probably why I’ve been putting off reading this. I know I will eventually get to it, I just have to remember that it’s not The Imperfectionists and that’s ok.

  2. Thanks for the review! I had mixed feelings about THE IMPERFECTIONISTS, mostly to do with the way the stories did or did not come together. But I did really enjoy the writing, so I think I will keep an eye out for this one.

  3. Okay, so I guess I really do need to slate The Imperfectionists in – while I really enjoyed The Rise & Fall, almost everyone that has read The Imperfectionists has said they liked it so much more (although Elizabeth here at LH didn’t enjoy it at all). So….I guess I better get cracking it open to find out for myself!

  4. Pingback: July Round Up | 52 books or bust

  5. Pingback: It's Fine Friday: The Rise and Fall of Great Powers - Pardon the Mess. Under renovation. Fabulous content still available.Pardon the Mess. Under renovation. Fabulous content still available.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s