Monday, October 14, 2013

The Historian - Final Check In & Discussion

Hello readers! It's been quite a month so far.. I finished both The Historian and Doctor Sleep within the past few weeks and I've got so many discussion questions to catch up on.  Today I will be posting my answers to the final discussion questions for The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.  This readalong event was hosted by The Estella Society for RIPVIII, which ends on October 31. 

If you're just catching up you can read my answers to the mid-way discussion here, and I posted my full review on The Historian here

Just in case you didn't realize - this is a discussion post so if you have not read or finished the book you may be spoiled by my answers!

1. What did you think of the way everything unfolded at the end? Any surprises?
The ending to the book did not shock or surprise me - I think it ended up being pretty predictable once Paul and Helen got to the final church site, and the overall ending of the book tied all of the story ends up quite nicely. I didn't think the additional perspective of Paul and Helen's daughter was completely unnecesary for the ending that Kostova wrote because it only added an additional emotional layer rather than enhancing the plot.  Reading everything through her perspective made the story confusing and I would have preferred a narrative rather than epistolary format for the overall book.
2. What did you think of Dracula?
I didn't think Dracula was all that impressive.  Is it just me or did anyone else feel that way? The build up to finding him was so great that I didn't even know what to expect and I think that is what led me to being let down. I think it would have been better if they didn't find his tomb or his "presence" and left it as a mystery.
3. In Chapter 73, Dracula states his credo: “History has taught us that the nature of man is evil, sublimely so.” Do the characters and events in the novel seem to agree or disagree with this?
I may have skimmed over this section .. so I will have to pass on this question!
4. Helen’s history is deeply intertwined with Dracula. In what ways are the two characters connected? Does she win out over his legacy?
Dracula and Helen are connected by their culture's history, language and customers on a very basic level, but ultimately their connection morphs into something else over the story.  Helen is initially motivated to find more information about Dracula because she is searching for her father and a way to connect with him on a scholarly level - the only way she has to reach out to him.  What she discovers when she meets up with Paul is someone who had Rossi as a paternal figure in their life, something she has always wanted.  I think this is where Helen's love for Paul comes from, apart from the incredible experience Paul and Helen had together searching for Dracula.  
Looking at the surface of the novel I think it is very easy to say that Helen won out over Dracula's legacy because she was able to escape him for years without being turned into a vampire and she was reunited with her family at the end of the story.  However, she had to give up so much of herself to searching through history and travelling all over the world to find his tomb to destroy him that she was never able to live her own life. She had to hide in the shadows the same way that he did so I don't think you can definitely say that she won out over his legacy
Overall I think this was a good book worth reading, but it exhausted the novelty of vampires for me this year. I won't be reading any bloodsucking books in the near future!


  1. Yeah, I think you and I are in the same camp on this one. I wanted more Dracula, or maybe a more impressive Dracula. I thought it was fairly predictable. When I found out Dracula wanted Paul to be his librarian, I was like "Really? All that for a librarian?" This one was just a "meh" read for me, but I am glad to have finished it and to have a built-in group to discuss with! :D

  2. I'm late to the party, aren't I? well, I finally finished the book and wanted to hop around and see what everyone else thought.

    I am so glad that I am not the only one that found Dracula's final scene not so impressive. Basically, the entire book is about him, but we get so little of him. Then, at the end, I felt it was too easy a kill, and he didn't have any final words, his great library wasn't found, him minions were left unidentified. So, yeah, I could have used a bit more of him.