Customer Reviews for

The Keep

Average Rating 3.5
( 30 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Taste is subjective, after all...

I really, really loved this book, from beginning to end. I don't particularly like Gothic novels but the story is gripping, especially when you start to question the narrator's sanity and are infected with the 'worm' he calls insecurity and paranoia. You don't know whic...
I really, really loved this book, from beginning to end. I don't particularly like Gothic novels but the story is gripping, especially when you start to question the narrator's sanity and are infected with the 'worm' he calls insecurity and paranoia. You don't know which characters to trust or doubt and as the story reaches its climax, everything you might have believed to be true is turned around. I actually did figure out who the inmate was about 100 pages in but it didn't ruin the surprise at the end. I think the different narratives are masterfully woven together and all the characters become familiar and even sympathetic, because of their flaws and questionable judgement. Very realistic characters, an unstoppable story, and a densely layered plot make this a very worthwhile read, especially for fans of mysteries and ghost stories.

posted by Anonymous on February 16, 2007

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Egan's Shot at High-Brow Misses The Keep is a Disaster

I found 'The Keep' to be wildly disappointing, and yet Ms. Egan is getting loads of positive press for this trainwreck of a novel. The book is flawed at its core. An attempt at metatextual commentary--which doubtless earned Ms. Egan some brownie points with the contem...
I found 'The Keep' to be wildly disappointing, and yet Ms. Egan is getting loads of positive press for this trainwreck of a novel. The book is flawed at its core. An attempt at metatextual commentary--which doubtless earned Ms. Egan some brownie points with the contemporary literary elite--goes awry. She places the entire implausible, cliche, cheaply Gothic story into the hands of an inmate who happens to be taking a writing seminar while incarcerated (his motivation for this rather profound undertaking remains utterly ambiguous, as does the major question of whether his description is intended to be factual or fictional). Placing the momentous task of novel-length narration into the hands of a character purported to be an unremarkable and undereducated criminal is a literarily reckless decision on the part of Ms. Egan. The result is an intelligent novelist's poor effort to 'rough up' her own language to make it sound more convincing the narrator's voice does not sound like that of the inmate it supposedly belongs to, nor does it sound like that of a proficient and well-respected novelist. It was here that Ms. Egan should have stopped and asked herself whether anyone would be interested in reading a full novel's worth of prose written presumably by an inmate just barely learning to write narrative prose. Egan also gained some accolades by aligning the imprisonment of her narrator with the connotations of imprisonment embodied by the keep itself. This was a somewhat dull and comparison, and when the two narratives finally collide, it was long overdue and utterly anticipated. The main issue, however, rests with the characters themselves. The main protagonist is purported to by a too-old New York City hipster (who, by the way claims to know and recognize passersby as he traverses the city--a claim which is utterly discrediting yet Egan's effort to prove how much a New Yorker Danny really is) who's still immature enough to walk around in full Goth attire (complete with black lipstick--sounds to me like a troubled middle-school boy) and suffer from an obsessive complex in which he demands the connectivity of telecommunications lest he shrivel into nonexistence--a rather hyperbolic and ridiculous effort at social commentary. Ultimately, the disparate elements of this farcical travesty spin idiotically around while the novel bursts at the seams. The characters are one-dimensional, the narration itself is goaded forward by a too-cool-to-care criminal, and when the parallel plots finally merge into one, the reader is left baffled by Egan's presumption that the reader is actually going to take it seriously. Hailed by the New York Times as a fiercely 'realistic' novel, 'The Keep' is anything but. It is a circus-ring disaster that I found totally aggravating to read and unimaginably foolish. My advice: don't waste your time.

posted by Anonymous on January 17, 2007

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2010

    Left Scratching My Head

    I was drawn to this novel by the cover and description...a suspenseful, psychological, gothic atmosphere...exactly my cup of tea. When I hear words like castle, baroness, and twins, I know that I will be taken for a ride. When this book was good, it was very, very good, and when it was bad, well, you know the rest.

    The Keep intersects two stories, one set in a castle in Europe, the other in a prison. The castle was recently bought by Howie, who wants to turn it in to a hotel. He asks his cousin, Danny, to come to Europe to help him with the renovation. The cousins share a long-lost secret from the past, and it does not take Egan very long to share this secret with her readers. Danny immediately knows that something is not quite right, especially when he meets the old baroness, who refuses to leave the "keep" of the castle. The jail story is not as interesting as the castle story, but they do eventually intersect in a creative way.

    It is interesting that The Keep tells dual stories, because I felt different ways reading it. It tells its stories very succinctly, but then has abstract, open-ended parts, where the reader has no idea what just happened. I felt the same way about The Glister as I do about The Keep. If I am going to spend a few days of my life reading a novel, I want to have definitive answers about what happens to the characters. Instead, I was left scratching my head.

    MY RATING - 3/5

    To see my rating scale and other reviews, please check out my blog:
    http://www.1776books.blogspot.com

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2007

    Egan's Shot at High-Brow Misses The Keep is a Disaster

    I found 'The Keep' to be wildly disappointing, and yet Ms. Egan is getting loads of positive press for this trainwreck of a novel. The book is flawed at its core. An attempt at metatextual commentary--which doubtless earned Ms. Egan some brownie points with the contemporary literary elite--goes awry. She places the entire implausible, cliche, cheaply Gothic story into the hands of an inmate who happens to be taking a writing seminar while incarcerated (his motivation for this rather profound undertaking remains utterly ambiguous, as does the major question of whether his description is intended to be factual or fictional). Placing the momentous task of novel-length narration into the hands of a character purported to be an unremarkable and undereducated criminal is a literarily reckless decision on the part of Ms. Egan. The result is an intelligent novelist's poor effort to 'rough up' her own language to make it sound more convincing the narrator's voice does not sound like that of the inmate it supposedly belongs to, nor does it sound like that of a proficient and well-respected novelist. It was here that Ms. Egan should have stopped and asked herself whether anyone would be interested in reading a full novel's worth of prose written presumably by an inmate just barely learning to write narrative prose. Egan also gained some accolades by aligning the imprisonment of her narrator with the connotations of imprisonment embodied by the keep itself. This was a somewhat dull and comparison, and when the two narratives finally collide, it was long overdue and utterly anticipated. The main issue, however, rests with the characters themselves. The main protagonist is purported to by a too-old New York City hipster (who, by the way claims to know and recognize passersby as he traverses the city--a claim which is utterly discrediting yet Egan's effort to prove how much a New Yorker Danny really is) who's still immature enough to walk around in full Goth attire (complete with black lipstick--sounds to me like a troubled middle-school boy) and suffer from an obsessive complex in which he demands the connectivity of telecommunications lest he shrivel into nonexistence--a rather hyperbolic and ridiculous effort at social commentary. Ultimately, the disparate elements of this farcical travesty spin idiotically around while the novel bursts at the seams. The characters are one-dimensional, the narration itself is goaded forward by a too-cool-to-care criminal, and when the parallel plots finally merge into one, the reader is left baffled by Egan's presumption that the reader is actually going to take it seriously. Hailed by the New York Times as a fiercely 'realistic' novel, 'The Keep' is anything but. It is a circus-ring disaster that I found totally aggravating to read and unimaginably foolish. My advice: don't waste your time.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2009

    A wonderful trip!

    Jennifer Egan does her very best in this book. She has an incredible feel for the reader. The plot moves quickly. I am about to reread it.
    I hope that all who buy this book enjoy the journey this book takes you on.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2007

    Taste is subjective, after all...

    I really, really loved this book, from beginning to end. I don't particularly like Gothic novels but the story is gripping, especially when you start to question the narrator's sanity and are infected with the 'worm' he calls insecurity and paranoia. You don't know which characters to trust or doubt and as the story reaches its climax, everything you might have believed to be true is turned around. I actually did figure out who the inmate was about 100 pages in but it didn't ruin the surprise at the end. I think the different narratives are masterfully woven together and all the characters become familiar and even sympathetic, because of their flaws and questionable judgement. Very realistic characters, an unstoppable story, and a densely layered plot make this a very worthwhile read, especially for fans of mysteries and ghost stories.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2006

    Different

    I did not find it boring at all. It was not quite what I expected and if you are looking for an on the edge of your seat breathtaking suspense novel... well, I would look else where. However, I think it is a nice follow up to 'Look At Me' and really shows Egan's versatility as a writer and boosts her credibility. I would suggest to anyone reading these reviews not to be influenced by others. The beauty of literature is that it is an abstract extension of the author. It is a piece of art, and art is objective. Some may like a work of art and others may hate it. It's imperative however to make your own conclusion. I feel this is an excellent novel in light of other releases in 2006. However, I must agree with some of the other reviewers and admit that some parts were confusing. It seems rushed. Egan could have spent a little more time developing some of the chapters but overall I felt it was a good read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2006

    very disappointing

    I found the book trite, disjointed and boring...can't understand all the 5 stars

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2006

    Yuck

    Boring - confusing - I couldn't finish it fast enough!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2006

    Not For Me

    The story was interesting but the end was extremely dissatisfying. Did anyone understand why Danny would pull a knife when he was on the verge of getting his own restaurant? I went back and read it twice.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 14, 2013

    When I bought this, it was marketed as a ghost story. It¿s not.

    When I bought this, it was marketed as a ghost story. It’s not. It’s literary fiction.

    I struggled to find a suitable rating for The Keep, doubting between giving it 3 or 4 stars. The book itself has a lot of good points, namely the plot, which is build up of two different stories that connect halfway through the book. I actually like this ‘story in a story’ concept, which reminds me of Inception. But then there are also so many bad things about this book that I have trouble summing all of them up. The story felt unfinished. The climax isn’t all that overwhelming, the last chapter is dull and the ending is abrupt, and seems like an overthought, almost like an entire new story.

    I think the problem with this book is the author tried to write literary fiction. I say tried, because in my opinion it doesn’t quite succeed. In The Keep, we meet Danny, a thirty-something man who spend the last years of his life working the scene in New York. He’s never had to grow up, and in fact he’s quite scared of growing up. He’s also terrified of losing touch with the outside world, so when he goes to visit his cousin in a remote castle, he brings an antenna. Which then drops into the pool and is forever lost. I actually liked Danny. He has a past that haunts him. He’s not overly successful at life. He struggles with everything from his relationship with his parents to his relationship with a woman he’s falling for. And then he gets to this supposedly haunted castle where there’s a tower, and inside is the old baroness or duchess. That’s when things get wonky. Storylines are explored but never fully explain. Who is the ancient baroness? Is she real, is what happened between her and Danny real, or is it a metaphor? I like metaphores as much as the next person, but they have to make sense. This one certainly didn’t make sense to me. And then there’s the castle’s pool. Supposedly twins drowned there numerous years ago. Since this is a ghost story, I half expected the twins to make a ghostly appearance, but they only do so briefly, and are quickly dismissed.

    My major issue with this book is that it’s not labelled correctly. I bought it thinking I was going to read a good, old-fashioned ghost story. The ghost’s appearances are so brief and meaningless they add next to nothing to the book. Instead, it’s more like a character study. What’s going to happen to Danny? If he going to take up responsibilities or not?

    And then we find out Danny isn’t real at all. He’s a character created by a prison inmate as an assignment for his writing class in prison. The inmate, Ray, has a crush on his teacher so he wants to write a great story. Meanwhile, he’s working on an escape plan with his crazy cell mate. I didn’t necessarily mind this story, but it could’ve been a bit more suspenseful. Like I said, this book focuses on characters, not plot, which makes the plot drag at times. It had a lot of potential, but ultimaly didn’t deliver.

    As a literary work however, The Keep is not that bad. The characters are solid and flawed, and their histories complex and entertaining. Had there been more ghosts, or had the inmate story been more enticing, I would’ve given it a higher rating. The writing itself is so-so. I felt the author spend too much time trying to write in a literary style, time she’d better spend working on the plot.

    If you’re a fan of literary fiction, you’ll probably enjoy this book. If you’re looking for a ghost story, look elsewhere.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 28, 2011

    Terrific spooky book--and much more

    You never really know what's going on in The Keep. I'm partial to books about haunted places but Jennifer Egan has written much more than your average haunted castle book.I can't say I liked the ending and that dropped a book that should have been 5 stars to 4 but I won't give it away. Even with an ending that doesn't match the quality of the rest it's a great read.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Old school gothic delight

    I love Jennifer Egan. She's like an amazing actor who takes risks on stage the way she is unafraid to both reveal and hide elements of her story that snake through, simmering at a low boil, then slither up to surprise you in the end. Just like A Visit From The Goon Squad (which just won the Pulitzer for fiction), The Keep keeps you guessing where it is going to go and what is going to happen. It's difficult to review it without giving any of it away...but an old-school gothic meta-concoction of plot, characters, and situations all set in a modern time kept this book intriguing to me. Thematically, what I took away from the book was the guilt and regret from the past that imprisons and haunts you and the ways in which a subtle desperation you didn't even know you possessed might draw you toward places and people that are not good for you. For me it felt a little like Charles Dickens meets Stephen King. Loved it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2008

    Not what I thought it would be

    I quickly became engrossed in this book- it grabs you right from the start, which is good, but it started taking these turns and ended up being unlike how it started and very different from what I thought would happen. If you like a bit of unpredictability in the plot, you'll probably like it. I just wanted more of the other stuff and it never was mentioned again. But I did like it- I enjoyed the author's writing style and might try another one of her books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2008

    The Keep

    I loved this book. It was enticing and engaging. It is a real page turner and anyone who loves a spooky tale with a twist should definitely read this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2008

    An absolute MeSs

    It was a mess to read, not counting the misprints. I kept reading, each chapter would take you some place else that made you lose track of what you were reading, I almost wanted to read the chapters that pertained to each other'not the order they were presented'. I never found out most how's, what's etc. the ending was so frustrating I literally threw the book across the room. I felt that I read an entire book and have no idea what is was about, plot, etc. Awful just Awful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2007

    A reviewer

    Something different and very creative! Expressed many true, usually unspoken feelings that people may antagonize over.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2006

    Don't bother

    I found this story very boring. It could have had some really twisted ending but it just was so lame. I almost didn't get past the first 50 pages, but because I paid full price for the book I felt like I had to read it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2006

    Leaves you wanting more, but not in a good way

    I'm sure the previous rater meant that art is *subjective* rather than objective... however, as art I'm not sure this rises too much above the level of 'starving artist'. It was good with a big 'but' appended to my opinion. I was really intrigued by the concept of 'The Keep' when I read reviews. Was it a mystery set in a medieval castle? A story of redemption for a former meth-addict writing teacher and/or the convicted murderer inmate? As it turned out it's none of the above. Ms Egan starts with a tempting storyline, and lets it drift away. The reader leaves the E. Europe setting with a story far from complete - that we've spent most of the book building up. As we enter the parallel confines of the prison (which, itself, has an insubstantial - almost irrelevant - subplot), we aren't given enough time/pages to appropriately transition the well-earned suspense to the new setting/characters. One track ends before it's ready - the other is never really allowed to begin. It would be one thing to leave the reader dangling if the story pointed back to us - daring us to self-reflect - but it doesn't. All said, the story has unrealized promise. I'm left wanting more - wishing Ms Egan had finished the thought she started, rather than abandoning it in favor of a story she has no intention of taking to a satisfying conclusion.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2006

    Engrossing, detailed narrative

    Jennifer Egan's 'The Keep' is an engrossing narrative. Her prose is detailed and fulfilling, especially with a complicated storyline such as this one. The entire story captivated me from the first few pages, although the almost stream of consciousness with no quotation marks put me off a bit at first (it takes some getting used to). Unlike other thrillers, there was no idea what was coming next. Many plot twists were unexpected, and quite interestingly concluded, given that the entire story is perception, opinion and mainly psychological. The ending was slightly rough, cutting off a chapter before and jumping into a spin-off storyline, but otherwise an excellent read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2006

    Fascinating

    Wealthy retired bond trader thirty four years old Howie buys a castle in Austria, Germany or the Czech Republic, as he is not sure which country hosts his new (make that old) abode. He sends a plane ticket to his thirty-six years old party hardy cousin Danny to come over from New York to help renovate the dump into a luxurious hotel. Needing to leave town as he has alienated some mean dudes, Danny flies to Europe though he fears that Howie might still have lingering resentment from a prank he pulled over two decades ago when he deserted him in a cave where he almost died.--------------- At least that is what Ray insists happened while attending a prison writing workshop. Is Ray writing fiction or providing a real account of something that happened to him that led to his drug addiction? His prison writing teacher Holly needs to know.---------------- THE KEEP is a strange tale that has the audience wondering what is real as the narrative rotates between Danny¿s central European adventures and Ray¿s prison time. Real or not, the cast seems genuine whether they are a figment of Ray¿s imagination or his recall of true people perhaps himself either way the audience believes that Ray, Danny, Howie, and Holly are three dimensional characters ironically some of their escapades seem over the top. Readers who appreciate something entirely different will want to peruse Jennifer Egan¿s fine thriller that questions reality in a digital age.----------------- Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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