Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Favorite - "Chesapeake" by James Michener

In what may be a first, my Friday Favorite this time was never made into a movie. My choice this week is James Michener's "Chesapeake," a novel that spans 400 years, making a movie adaptation all but impossible. Complicating matters even more would be the fact that there are no people in a good part of the book. I've seen movies done from the point of view of a cat or a dog, but I'm guessing that filmmakers have really shied away from trying to get the point of view of Canadian geese down on film.

The book is entirely set in an area scarely more than 10 miles square, in and around the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. It opens before the Europeans discovered the area then follows their arrival and the settling of the land right up until the time the book was written (it was published in 1986). About 10 years ago, I discovered that my husbands' ancestors had settled very near this area and was so excited to already have a picture in my head of what the land must have been like when they first arrived.

Michener is the master of combining research and story; twenty years after reading the book, I still remember what this book said about the migratory patterns of the geese and how they are able to navigate their way. At almost 1100 pages, this was by far and away one of the longest books I had read up until this point in my life, but I don't ever remember feeling as though it was an insurmountable obstacle. In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I later picked up a couple more Michener novels.

Michener's first novel was "Tales of the South Pacific" which was made into the Broadway musical and movie "South Pacific" and which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1948.

9 comments:

  1. I love those (old) authors like Michener and Uris and Wouk who wrote those huge books that just never felt tedious to read. And the movies that came from them were wonderful too. Thanks for the reminder of a good read!

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  2. Can you believe I read this in high school? And not for an assignment?! I loved this book, it will always be one of my favorites. It's a shame that I have a good many of Michener's books, but this is the only one I've read. I'm going to make it a point to read one early next year. It will be a daunting task (you know how long they are), but I know I will enjoy it. I can probably work it in to a challenge too! Great review Lisa. I like it when someone else likes a book as much as I do =o)

    Hey, maybe I should start a Michener challenge next year! *lightbulb blinks on* Think anyone else would be game?

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  3. I've never read any of Michener's work because I've always been intimidated by the size of them.

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  4. They are huge, Kathy, but so worth it.

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  5. I really liked Michener's Hawaii and a couple of the others I read. I remember thinking that they were so LONG...but when I got into them, the pages just flew. This one sounds really interesting. Great pick!

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  6. I love Michener!! Great books!!!

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  7. This book has been sitting on my shelf since I bought it for a trip to Anapolis and left before I got around to reading it. I like Michener--The Source and Centennial were both great. I think of him in the same category of Leon Uris, whom I also enjoy.

    V. cool that you have a personal connection to the novel/area via your husband's family--makes it that much more real.

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  8. I haven't ever read any Michener books, and up until now I haven't had the desire to. What changed my mind was your mention of South Pacific. I had no idea that it was based on a Michener novel, and it has been one of my favorite movies/musicals for ages. I must check that one out.

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