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The Keep by Jennifer Egan
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The Keep (original 2006; edition 2007)

by Jennifer Egan

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1,404745,398 (3.39)122
Member:RavenousReaders
Title:The Keep
Authors:Jennifer Egan
Info:Anchor (2007), Paperback, 272 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:Pima County Public Library, pcpl, renovation, cousins, suspence, crime, staff pick

Work details

The Keep by Jennifer Egan (2006)

Recently added bywandering_star, e-zReader, procul, nicoelston, private library, Crae, KelMunger
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English (71)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (1)  All languages (74)
Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
The NY Times advertised, "The result is a work both prodigiously entertaining and profoundly moving." Personally, I didn't find it entertaining regardless of the adverb in front of the word in the review and I definitely did not find this book 'profoundly moving'. If you have the time and add it to your reading list, I'll hope you'll let me know what you think when you're finished reading. ( )
  Corduroy7 | Aug 6, 2014 |
I bought this book because I loved [A Visit from the Goon Squad]. This book is much different from that one, but I enjoyed it almost as much. I was drawn in from the first chapter, in which we meet Danny and Howie, cousins who are good friends until Danny makes a decision with dangerous consequences for Howie. Years later, Howie (now known as Howard) is a successful businessman who invites Danny to help him renovate a castle into a hotel. Danny is down on his luck and grasps at the opportunity as a way to turn his life around. The atmosphere in the castle is dark and suspenseful, and the suspense is heightened by the fact that Danny doesn't always seem to be the most credible judge of other people. The pace of the story picks up, leaving me glad that I had a few hours this morning to plow through to the ending.

Egan is a wonderful story teller. She captures the nuances of relationships beautifully, and the atmosphere she creates in the castle is masterful. On its own this would have been enough for me. However, there are a few chapters sprinkled throughout that add another dimension to the book. In these chapters, a writing teacher from a community college is teaching a writing class at a prison. Gradually, the threads come together convincing me that Egan is no ordinary story teller, and that I must get my hands on everything else that she has written. ( )
  porch_reader | Mar 30, 2014 |
Out of money and options, Danny travels to an unnamed Eastern European country to join his cousin Howard in renovating a decrepit castle, where family secrets are dredged up in this story within a story.

The Keep is a strange book, and I’m still not sure how I felt about it. What drew me in was the gothic setting, which Egan’s prose brings to life. It is situated on a mountaintop overlooking a quaint, Old World village, and it contains a tower called the keep, inhabited by a crazy, ancient baroness who is the last of the family that originally owned the castle and who refuses to leave; a murky pool where twin children were said to have drowned, which may be inhabited by ghosts; and a maze of tunnels underneath that include a torture chamber complete with manacled skeletons. It all sounds a bit too much, but Egan is playing with us, as we soon discover. For Danny’s story is actually an assignment that a guy named Ray is writing for a class he is taking at the prison where he is incarcerated.

So what is real, and what isn’t real? Egan doesn’t tell us. Danny’s story gets more and more surreal, as he first falls out of a window and suffers a head injury, then tries to get away from the castle and fails. (By the way, why do these surreal journeys always take place in Central European locations? I believe this is the third novel I’ve read with that premise.) I did find Danny’s story and the castle more compelling than Ray’s story and the prison, and it is Danny’s story that keeps me reading.

At the end, I think Egan gives us enough information to formulate some answers. I won’t divulge my thinking, because that would be too spoiler-y, but for me, the ending was a bit too on the nose. Overall, though, I liked the book, and I was interested in what Egan was trying to do. She may not have completely pulled off the experimental aspects of the novel, but at least she was willing to play with the narrative structure, and for what it’s worth, she nailed the gothic nature of the story. She could have stuck to that, and this would have been a very entertaining book.

Read for the 2014 Geo Category Challenge (March 2014). ( )
  sturlington | Mar 30, 2014 |
A marvelous, magical novel - shifting and changing under you even as you read it. It isn't at all what you're expecting from the jacket copy, so just ignore it and dive in. You'll know how you feel about the novel by about page 15. For me, I found Egan's writing to be on a-whole-nother level from just about anybody else working today. This novel is different from Goon Squad and, from what I can tell, different from the other ones she's written as well.

I won't say too much other than "read it."

But if you want to hear more, I've got a lot more at RB: http://wp.me/pGVzJ-rL ( )
  drewsof | Jul 9, 2013 |
Danny is a lost soul who never manages to grow up. After living in New York for years bouncing from one job to the next he finds his life to be empty. He travels to Eastern Europe to meet his cousin Howard who is trying to open a hotel in a rundown castle. Their complicated history makes their relationship tenuous at best.

The atmosphere is perfectly set, a creepy castle in Eastern Europe, a dark trauma from the past returns to haunt the characters, sounds perfect. Unfortunately the plot quickly becomes weighed down with unnecessary side plots. There’s Danny’s obsession with technology, Howard’s complicated marital life, a crazy baroness living in one tower of the castle, etc. Each of these elements could be interesting, but together they create a bit of a mess.

Just when the plot does hook you it changes gears completely and we find a new set of characters in a writing class in prison. This drastic switch never quite meshes with the feel of the other plot line. Egan works to bring the stories together, but it just doesn’t feel right. Then at the end she tries to wow us with a “twist” that’s not as shocking as it should be. We switch narrators one more time in the final chapters and it once again feels like an entirely new book.

BOTTOM LINE: I admire the writing style, but the story itself never comes together. The author couldn’t seem to decide on a narrator and so the book feels like three separate short stories smashed together. Try her much more successful book A Visit from the Goon Squad instead. ( )
2 vote bookworm12 | Jun 11, 2013 |
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For the little boys, Manu and Raoul
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The castle was falling apart, but at 2 a.m. under a useless moon, Danny couldn't see this.
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Book description
Publisher Comments:
From National Book Award finalist Jennifer Egan, author of Look at Me ("Brilliantly unnerving...A haunting, sharp, splendidly articulate novel" The New York Times), a spellbinding work of literary suspense enacted in a chilling psychological landscape — a dazzling tour de force.

Two cousins, irreversibly damaged by a childhood prank whose devastating consequences changed both their lives, reunite twenty years later to renovate a medieval castle in Eastern Europe, a castle steeped in blood lore and family pride. Built over a secret system of caves and tunnels, the castle and its violent history invoke and subvert all the elements of a gothic past: twins, a pool, an old baroness, a fearsome tower. In an environment of extreme paranoia, cut off from the outside world, the men reenact the signal event of their youth, with even more catastrophic results. And as the full horror of their predicament unfolds, a prisoner, in jail for an unnamed crime, recounts an unforgettable story — a story about two cousins who unite to renovate a castle — that brings the crimes of the past and present into piercing relation.

Egan's relentlessly gripping page-turner plays with rich forms — ghost story, love story, gothic — and transfixing themes: the undertow of history, the fate of imagination in the cacophony of modern life, the uncanny likeness between communications technology and the supernatural. In a narrative that shifts seamlessly from an ancient European castle to a maximum security prison, Egan conjures a world from which escape is impossible and where the keep — the last stand, the final holdout, the place you run to when the walls are breached — is both everything worth protecting and the very thing that must be surrendered in order to survive.

A novel of fierce intelligence and velocity; a bravura performance from a writer of consummate skill and style.
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Two cousins, irreversibly damaged by a childhood prank whose devastating consequences changed both their lives, reunite twenty years later to renovate a medieval castle in Eastern Europe, a castle steeped in blood lore and family pride. Built over a secret system of caves and tunnels, the castle and its violent history invoke and subvert all the elements of a gothic past: twins, a pool, an old baroness, a fearsome tower. In an environment of extreme paranoia, cut off from the outside world, the men reenact the signal event of their youth, with even more catastrophic results. And as the full horror of their predicament unfolds, a prisoner, in jail for an unnamed crime, recounts an unforgettable story--a story about two cousins who unite to renovate a castle--that brings the crimes of the past and present into piercing relation.… (more)

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