Kenneth Roberts in the Blogosphere: “Great Performances” on Lydia Bailey

Here are some kind words from Linda Aragoni, of Great Performances, in a post titled “Only Returning Vets Could Love Lydia” in reference to Kenneth Roberts’ novel Lydia Bailey.

Aragoni says two things that caught my attention.  First:

Hamlin says the things most soldiers just home from the front lines would like to say. I suspect his bitterness made Lydia Bailey a success among folks who had just come through World War II.

Interesting thought … something that never came to mind when reading the novel.  A second thing she says in her post is:

Today’s returning vets may have the same gripes, but they wouldn’t go for Roberts’ writing. All Roberts’ meticulous research can’t hide the implausible plot. And his flat, one-dimensional characters and paragraph-length sentences would sink the novel.

I must agree that Hamlin, the lead character in Lydia Bailey, is rather predictable and bland.  Like I’ve said before, Lydia Bailey is probably one of my least favorite novels of K.R. primarily because of the forced, predictable romance aspect; I think this goes hand in hand with her comment about the characters.

In regards to  her statement “paragraph-length sentences would sink the novel,” it’s sad to say, but she may be correct.  Today’s novels do not read like novels of only 60 years ago.  Paragraphs are very short and sentence structure is very simple.  This is sad, in my opinion, for I find Roberts’ style makes his novels come alive and real.  Today’s novels in general, well, leave much to be desired.

K.R. in the Blogosphere: Peter Porcupine on “Oliver Wiswell”

A blog by ‘Peter Porcupine’ (see the about page) provides a post (posted yearly on the 4th of July) on the defining moment of our country.  In this post, he gives a kind word to Roberts’ Oliver Wiswell:

If you signed this [the Declaration of Independence], you were a marked man. Make no mistake, if the American Revolution had not been a success, and you had signed this document, you would be hung as a traitor. The references to honor and life are not hyperbole, but a statement of fact. The success of the Revolution was far from a foregone conclusion, or a ‘self-evident truth’. To understand the pressures of neighbor against neighbor and to enjoy a great lost classic, consider reading the novel, ‘Oliver Wiswell’ by Kenneth Roberts, the story of an honorable man from the Blue Hills outside of Boston, caught up in revolutionary times, but unable to overcome his scruples regarding loyalty to the Crown, a reluctant and troubled Loyalist. I knew so many like him, who had lost their families and fortunes, swept away in a tide which engulfed a continent.


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