16 December 2009

The Coral Thief

So i finished an ERC i received from Librarything: The Coral Thief by Rebecca Stott.

The Coral Thief is what i call "an observer to a historically significant time" novel. It is about a Scottish student, Daniel, who comes to Paris to study under Cuvier (a naturalist who thought species couldn't change) right after Napoleon is defeated. The specimens he is bringing from his teacher to Cuvier get stolen by a beautiful woman and he feels that unless he gets those items back he's ruined. The beautiful woman is Lucienne Bernard, a professional thief with a traumatic past who gets Daniel caught up in the political, philosophical, religious and scientific debates of the time.

Things i liked: the illustrations! There were drawings of sculptures, maps, insects and fossils. These pictures really brought to life some of the details of the novel. I also liked Fin, our narrator's roommate. A drunken, but good-natured, medical student who mainly spends his time amputating limbs in the medical wards and forgetting about the horrors of that with his social circle.

What i didn't like: the bits about Napoleon. really don't know why those little interludes were in the book. The ending is also a bit of a letdown. The book builds up to this spectacular heist but then just ends very quickly.

Overall, this is a 5 for me. not bad and i do like Stott's style, so i may pick up her other book, Ghostwalk, at some later date.

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