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A Storm Hits Valparaíso is an epic, historical adventure starring two brothers torn apart by love; a slave running for his life; a disgraced ...
A Storm Hits Valparaíso is an epic, historical adventure starring two brothers torn apart by love; a slave running for his life; a disgraced British sailor seeking redemption; and José de San Martín, an Argentine general who deserts the Spanish Army to lead a bloody revolt against his former masters.
Posted September 13, 2012
A historical fiction that brings to light some of the leaders in the independence movements in South America. This is my introduction to men such as San Martin and Cochrane who were commanders in the struggles of Argentina, Chile, and Peru in winning their independence from Spain. From reading this book I learned what drove some of the leaders to give up everything to join the revolutions in South America.
The story of A Storm Hits Valparaiso involves not only the leaders and men in the history books, but also the people who were being directly affected by the changes that were coming about in their lives. Stories from the point of view of two cousins who were raised as brothers, a runaway slave, and the daughter of a bar owner all bring in the "little people" of the revolution. It is these stories that bring the revolutions down to the people that were truly being affected by what the leaders were doing.
A very good read and one that opens new history for those that want to explore the growth of independence movements.
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Posted February 6, 2012
I have a lot of respect for David Gaughran. I read his blog daily and his non fiction work Let’s Get Digital manages to be both inspiring and of practical use so when I saw the chance to get a review copy of his first novel, A Storm Hits Valparaiso I jumped at it, not lease because I saw it as a way of repaying a little bit of what I’ve gotten from David over the past several months.
A Storm Hits Valparaiso is an epic story of love, hate, brotherhood, power, revenge, and the thirst for independence told from the points of view of a variety of people in positions both high and low. For the sake of perspective, Historical Fiction is not a genre I read a lot and I have no particular interest in South America. My home genre is Epic Fantasy though, so I am fully ready to accept a story that spans a continent where what’s at stake is the lives of every single person on the continent.
I wanted to love this book and I ended up just liking it.
Why did I like it?
Well, it has a little bit of everything it claims. There is love, of both the romantic and brotherly varieties. There is the simple struggle for survival of individuals juxtaposed against the larger struggle for the survival of a people with a regional identity. There is the desire of individual slaves to be free smacked right up next to the desire of a nation of people desiring to be free of a colonial power half a world away. In short, it has everything you would want in an epic.
Why then, didn’t I love it?
There are two things I would point to but I think they both stem from one overriding factor. The story is too big for the book. I come from a world of Epic Fantasy where doorstopper novels are, if not quite the norm, well within the normal range. A Storm Hits Valparaiso comes in at a bit less than a hundred thousand words which is fairly normal for a novel. But this isn’t a normal novel. We don’t have a main plot with a few sub plots. Gaughran is trying to tell us a real story from real history and if you haven’t noticed, real life is far more complex than your average novel.
To get into the specifics, I think A Storm Hits Valparaiso has two significant flaws.
One is characterization. It is spotty at best. There are, I think, two characters who are decently written though even there, we should have had more. In other cases, including what should have been one of the more emotional subplots there wasn’t enough characterization to make me actually care about the character. If I don’t care about them I don’t care about what happens to them and they—and the novel—lose all the dramatic tension they should have.
The other problem—and it’s related—is a showing/telling problem. There are a lot of places where Gaughran tells us something instead of showing us something and the story suffers as a result.
For example, there are two brothers, Jorge and Diego who get separated for a long time. When they get back together they find things aren’t quite like they were before and they end up growing apart. Gaughran tells us this and gives us a scene or two to illustrate. It should have been the reverse. Give us nine scenes where we can see that things are different and just a few lines where one of them recognizes the differences.
All in all, if you like historical fiction and/or have a particular affection for South America, I think you’ll really enjoy this story.
2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 27, 2013
Posted November 22, 2013