It’s getting to that time of the year when you’re seeing a lot of “Best Books” lists, and you’ll likely see The Confabulist by Steven Galloway on quite a few of them. I was a little hesitant about reading this book since I was not a huge fan of his previous book, The Cellist of Sarajevo. It was a little too brooding for my taste. By way of contrast, The Confabulist is anything but moody and brooding.
The Confabulist is about the life, and sudden death, of Harry Houdini, so you pretty much know that it is going to be fascinating. And it is. But part of what makes The Confabulist such an enjoyable read is the way Galloway weaves the story as a mystery, a story of espionage and a thwarted romance.
Previously when I thought of Houdini I only thought of him as a magical escape artist. But his influence spread much beyond that into the world of international relations and espionage. In particular, I was interested in his interactions with both the Czar in Russia and Arthur Conan Doyle.
Who would like this book? I’m struggling to find anyone who would not like The Confabulist. It’s just that good. I’ve been in a pretty bad reading slump of late, but The Confabulist did wonders to break it. In particular, however, I would recommend it to those who are interested in the rise of spiritualism in the years following World War One. From that point of view it reminded me a fair bit of The Dark by Claire Mulligan.
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One of my favourite books of the year and it has a clever twist. It reminded me a little bit of Christopher Priest’s The Prestige in that way. A very good way to get yourself out of a reading slump!
I’ve not read The PPrestige, but it looks like I’m going to have to check it out.
I enjoyed ‘The Cellist of Sarajevo’, but it didn’t blow me away. This one sounds much better – I’m in need of a book to break me out of a slump and Susan’s comparison to The Prestige (one of my favourites) makes me even more intrigued. I’ve added it to my wishlist!
It broke my slump and was very different from Cellist.
Reblogged this on laramaynard.
I felt the same way after reading this book. I couldn’t think of anyone who wouldn’t like it. There is so much packed into it. I’m glad to hear it brought you out of your slump! 🙂
I’ve been meaning to read this book as I enjoyed The Cellist of Sarajevo. Great review, will keep a lookout for it 🙂
I saw your tweets about this book and now that I’ve read this I’ve added The Confabulist to my TBR list. Not sure whether to thank you or shake you 😉 Heading into a new year it’s good that you seem to have broken your reading slump. You wouldn’t want to drag that into the new year.
I’ve been meaning to finish this book after reading half of it at the reference library! I really liked the parts that I did read and I’m glad you feel the same. Yay for being out of your reading slump!
This book really sounds wonderful, I’ve not heard of it
This is the first review I’ve seen of this book, and it sounds fantastic!
It is fantastic. It’s by a Canadian so it may not be making waves yet down in the states.
How exciting that you found a good book to break your slump! I love books about interesting people in history, so this could definitely be a good one for me to pick up.
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