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A Good Novel... If Only Boyle Had Trimmed It A Little
Two things are true of all TC Boyle novels: 1) They are always funny and well-written and 2) they are always well researched. Indeed there is no shortage of the former in THE ROAD TO WELLVILLE--it is replete with scenes of absurd tragedy and prose so rich and buttery you can almost see health-nut Harvey Kellogg wagging his finger. But it is the obvious infatuation Boyle has with researching Kellogg's story that bogs his own novel down. There are far too many superfluous descriptions of (a few examples) Harvey Kellogg lecturing a room full of astonished listeners; rich socialites eating vegetables; trendy medicinal practices circa 1907; and nurses administering enemas to reluctant colons. WELLVILLE is by no means a bad novel; in fact, its premise and setting are captivating at times, and even though the characters we meet at "the San" are all either idealistic and naive or righteous and self-important, they are still interesting enough to be followed around. But at about page 300 readers may find themselves hitting a wall. If you are that far invested, soldier on--like any good Kellogg meal, TC saves the best for last (ne'er-do-well George's fate is particularly gratifying)--but this is a clear example of a novel that could have been 50 pages shorter and still effective in achieving its sweeping Dickensian narrative.
Recommended for Boyle die-hards, but for first-timers there are better books to choose from....
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Posted March 4, 2010
Much too Much
I bought this book, because I liked "The Women" so much and because I know a member of the Kellogg family. My interest was strong in the beginning of the book, and the characters interesting. I lost interest about the middle of the book, and scanned over the rest. Just too dull after awhile. Really disappointed.
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