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Friday, April 17, 2015

Review: The Thunder of Giants by Joel Fishbane

Title: The Thunder of Giants
Author: Joel Fishbane
Format: ARC
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publish Date: April 14, 2015
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

What's the Story?:

From "The year is 1937 and Andorra Kelsey – 7’11 and just under 320 pounds – is on her way to Hollywood to become a star. Hoping to escape both poverty and the ghost of her dead husband, she accepts an offer from the wily Rutherford Simone to star in a movie about the life of Anna Swan, the Nova Scotia giantess who toured the world in the 19th century.

Thus, Anna Swan's story unfurls. Where Andorra is seen as a disgrace by an embarrassed family, Anna Swan is quickly celebrated for her unique size. Drawn to New York, Anna becomes a famed attraction at P.T. Barnum’s American Museum even as she falls in love with Gavin Clarke, a veteran of the Civil War. Quickly disenchanted with a life of fame, Anna struggles to prove to Gavin – and the world - that she is more than the sum of her measurements."

My Two Cents:

"The Thunder of Giants" is a historical fiction story that looks at two very interesting women. The first woman is the fictional Andorra Kelsey, who is almost 8 feet tall. She lives during the 1930s and feels like she's a disgrace to her family who is sort of embarrassed by her incredible size. The second woman is Anna Swan (non-fiction), a woman who lives during the late 1800s and is also almost 8 feet tall. Unlike Andorra, Anna is accepted for her size and almost celebrated. The author looks at the differences between these two women's lives.

This book is a debut for author Joel Fishbane. I was intrigued by the story of these two women and that alone pulled me in. With both Anna and Andorra's stories, I found myself wanting more detail about these women. This book is relatively short and the author tries to make use of The space within the book to tell the stories, however, this book left me wanting more details about the inner workings and motives of both women. I felt like I was being held at arm's length for much of the book.

The book seems to focus a little bit more on Andorra, who definitely has the sadder story. We get to know her family and the sort of almost cruel treatment that she receives at their hands. She always seems to be the subject of ridicule which one it must've been incredibly hard. It is easy to see why she is driven to rub elbows with some unsavory characters to make a movie about Anna Swan's life.

This was a good debut even if I wanted more from the characters. Overall, I thought this book was a good debut and I like the inventiveness of the story, however, I wanted a little bit more detail.



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