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The Rise & Fall of Great Powers by Tom…
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The Rise & Fall of Great Powers

by Tom Rachman

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English (45)  Danish (1)  German (1)  All languages (47)
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
Hard to follow at first, but eventually the reader figures out the time map and falls in love with Tooly Zylberberg and her eclectic and peripatetic "family" The story goes back and forth to follow her life to such exotic spots as Bangkok, Australia, South Africa, Wales, Brooklyn. It's almost too convoluted to try to explain, and I suspect I'm going to read this one again---this time, I may "rearrange the chapters" and read lineally. I also listened to the audio, presented by a spectacular narrator Penelope Rawlins in which she offers us a wide spectrum of voices and accents. ( )
  tututhefirst | Jan 6, 2015 |
READ IN ENGLISH

Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, thank you!

I hadn't read Tom Rachman's first book, The Imperfectionists, but after I found out this book was about a woman owning a book shop, I wanted to read this. Just don't get your hopes up too high, because unfortunately there's very few book shop in this book.

There is however, an interesting story, that takes a while to unravel but kept me wondering exactly what happened in Bangkok and who are all these people involved. The ending wasn't completely satisfying, but I think it fitted the book.

I don't think this is a novel for everyone. In the beginning it was extremely slow, and especially the 2011-storyline had some troubles to keep my attention. But once it is clear something is going on, it didn't bother me any more. It was not a very easy or light read (perhaps I've just read too much YA lately) but an enjoyable one all the same. I just happened to be in my book shop last week (surprise!) and there The Rise And Fall Of Great Powers was the English book of the month. ( )
  Floratina | Jan 4, 2015 |
Some novels are like balloons slowly being filled with air. Just when the book reaches its breaking point, when no more tension can possibly be inserted, relief arrives in one of two ways: either the book springs a leak and fizzles to a disappointing end, or it explodes into one of those satisfying endings readers will remember for a long time. Mystery and thriller writers are always trying to make their balloon pop, and the good ones do it more times than not. Unfortunately, The Rise and Fall of Great Powers springs a bad leak instead of exploding. It begins with an interesting premise, hints at some kind of intriguing revelation to come, and then fizzles into mediocrity.

The Rise and Fall of Great Powers tells the tale of Tooly Zylberberg, a little girl who is having one of the strangest coming-of-age experiences imaginable. Tooly lives with her father, a man who about once a year moves her to a new continent where she starts her life all over again. That Paul is hiding them from someone goes right over Tooly’s head. To her, being suddenly submerged into an entirely new culture where she has to struggle with language and a new school is perfectly normal. And, every so often, no matter where they are, a woman called Sarah shows up to spend a little time with Paul and Tooly. It is all perfectly routine to the little girl – until the day Sarah steals her away from her father.

Rachman tells Tooly’s story in a recurring succession of segments that occur in 1988 (when Tooly is 10), 1999-2000, and 2011 (the present?). Although this approach is a bit confusing at first because of the number of characters involved, it soon becomes a fascinating process of filling in all the blanks about how the various characters became the people they are in 2011 when Tooly is trying to solve the mysteries of her childhood. Who knows the truth – and is willing to share it with Tooly?

Is it Humphrey, the old Russian who at times seems to have raised Tooly on his own while everyone else in her life forgot about her? Zenn, the charismatic young man Tooly has always admired and looked to as her protector? Sarah, the woman who kidnapped her? Her father, who seems to have made little effort to find and get her back when she disappeared?

What promises to be the fascinating truth about her childhood is out there somewhere, and Tooly is determined to find it. But when she finally does find it, all the air comes out of The Rise and Fall of Great Powers and the reader is left holding little more than an empty balloon. ( )
  SamSattler | Dec 22, 2014 |
Mal wieder so richtig versinken in einem Buch, mitfürchten, -leiden, -freuen und was sonst noch alles mit der Heldin der Geschichte - ja, das gelingt mit dieser Lektüre schon ganz gut, wenn auch nicht perfekt. Aber was ist schon vollkommen im Leben ;-) ?
Tooly steht im Mittelpunkt dieser knapp 500 Seiten und man begleitet sie auf drei verschiedenen Abschnitten ihres Lebens, die nach und nach die Rätsel ihrer Vergangenheit offenbaren. Mit 10 Jahren kommt sie mit ihrem Vater nach Bangkok, wo sie die Menschen kennenlernt, die in der folgenden Zeit maßgeblich ihr Leben beeinflussen werden. Ungefähr 10 Jahre später in New York City, kurz vor ihrer Volljährigkeit, führt sie eine halbherzige Liebesbeziehung in einer WG, bevor sie mit einem radikalen Schritt all ihre Verbindungen löst. Und 2011, Tooly ist mittlerweile Anfang 30, lebt als Besitzerin eines nicht sehr gut gehenden Antiquariats in Wales, erreicht sie eine Nachricht aus ihrer Vergangenheit, die für sie noch immer mehr Unbekanntes als Bekanntes birgt. So macht sich Tooly wieder auf die Reise...
Es ist schon ein recht illustres und chaotisches Leben, das in einer sehr genauen und bildhaften Sprache von Tom Rachman hier beschrieben wird, wie beispielsweise gleich der erste Satz zeigt: 'Sein Bleistift schwebte über dem Verkaufsbuch, stieß, wenn Fogg einer Behauptung Nachdruck verleihen wollte, zum Blatt hinab, bis die Bleistifspitze auf's Papier traf, stieg gleich darauf wie ein Kunstflieger auf, um dann, wenn er wieder etwas betonte, erneut im Sturzflug niederzugehen, wodurch der immer stumpfer werdende Stift ein Sternenbild von Punkten rund um jenen einsamen Eintrag dieses Morgens hinterließ, der den Verkauf eines gebrauchten Exemplars von 'Landschnecken in Großbritannien' von A.G. Brunt-Coppell (Preis: 3,50 £) festhielt.' So versinkt man regelrecht in Toolys Leben, das immer konfuser zu verlaufen scheint - was mir irgendwann angesichts der merkwürdigen Personen, die nach und nach in ihr Leben treten, etwas zu viel des Guten wurde. Auch mit dem 'Fast-Ende' hadere ich etwas, in dem nach dieser doch sehr drastischen Enthüllung einfach - NICHTS passiert. Zumindest habe ich es so empfunden. Trotzdem: Es ist ein Schmöker mit einer bezaubernden Heldin und einer schönen Sprache, der die langen Herbstabende garantiert recht kurz werden lässt.
PS: Ist der Titel eine Anlehnung an das 1987 erschiene Buch von Paul M. Kennedy? Mit dem Motto '...dass eine imperiale Überdehnung eine Großmacht zum Niedergang führt.' (Quelle:wikipedia)? ( )
  Xirxe | Dec 2, 2014 |
THE RISE AND FALL OF GREAT POWERS--maybe by the end of this book that title is explained. I'll never know, though, because I can't get past page 103. Although this book has received many great reviews, I disliked it before I got to page 50. I read further because of those reviews.

This seems to be one story told, at various points, in 2011 or 1999 or 1988. The only reason the story is "mysterious," as other reviews have described it, is because we skip around from one of those years to another, back and forth, sometimes skipping 20 years, sometimes 10. I wouldn't call it mysterious, though; I'd call it disjointed. Plus, by page 103, I still didn't understand any of the characters--they're all weird--and Rachman still hasn't explained what is going on.

Perhaps it isn't fair to review a book that I haven't entirely read. But it looks like other readers had the same problem with it that I did, so I'm joining in to agree.

That makes me wonder how many others had this experience with THE RISE AND FALL OF GREAT POWERS; thousands? Will those people, like me, never want to read this author's books again? Perhaps all authors should heed this advice: get to the point soon before you lose your readers.

I won this book as an advanced reader's edition from Random House. ( )
  techeditor | Oct 10, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
Tom Rachman’s ingenious second novel, “The Rise and Fall of Great Powers,” is harder to describe than “The Imperfectionists,” his sensational first.
The richness of this book is more apparent once the reading is over. In other words, “The Rise and Fall of Great Powers” is knottier than “The Imperfectionists,” and more deliberately confusing.
added by sneuper | editNew York Times, Janet Maslin (Jun 10, 2014)
 
Mingling these time frames and withholding explanations about characters’ relations to each other, Rachman raises the stakes of this minor mystery somewhat higher than the novel can ultimately afford.
Now beyond resentment or blame, she just wants a usable past and someone worthy of her tender heart. Rachman is certainly such a person, and in these pages, you may discover that you are, too.
added by sneuper | editWashington Post, Ron Charles (Jun 10, 2014)
 
To my taste, at least at the outset, Rachman steers dangerously close to being merely whimsical. There's something slightly cutesy about the wall-to-wall eccentricity, something slightly precious about the fey withholding of information from the reader.
I had a little snooze on page 40, but by page 340 I was bolt awake. I'll keep The Rise and Fall of Great Powers on my shelf.
added by sneuper | editthe Guardian, Sam Leith (Jun 5, 2014)
 
Some novels are such good company that you don’t want them to end; Tom Rachman knows this, and has pulled off the feat of writing one.
All this amounts to a touching story of fallen idols, with brilliant insight into misplaced loyalties, and the power that adults have over children. Rachman has written a hugely likeable, even loveable book about the people we meet and how they shape us.
added by sneuper | editthe Telegraph, Lucy Daniel (Jun 4, 2010)
 

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Tom Rachmanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stheeman, TjadineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Voorhoeve, OnnoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385676956, Hardcover)

The New York Times and Globe & Mail-bestselling author of The Imperfectionists returns with an intricately woven novel about a bookseller who travels the world to make sense of her puzzling past.
     Tooly Zylberberg tells a story: as a child, she was stolen from home, stashed at a den of thieves, then adopted by crooks there, who ended up raising her and even using the little girl in capers around the globe. But Tooly understands only fragments of what happened in Thailand, Italy, New York and beyond. Then, a desperate message reaches her musty bookshop in Wales, and she is lured into a journey that will reveal the secret of her childhood. Celebrated for his ingenious plotting, humanity and humor, Tom Rachman has written a novel that will amplify his reputation as one of the most exciting young writers today.

(retrieved from Amazon Fri, 10 Jan 2014 17:56:13 -0500)

Tooly Zylberberg, the American owner of an isolated bookshop in the Welsh countryside, conducts a life full of reading, but with few human beings. Books are safer than people, who might ask awkward questions about her life. She prefers never to mention the strange events of her youth. Tooly believes she will never know the true story of her own life. Then startling news arrives from a long-lost boyfriend, raising old mysteries and propelling her on a quest around the world in search for answers.… (more)

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