As I posted previously, Follett is best known for his thrillers, but delved into historical fiction because of his life-long fascination with dark-age European cathedrals. The risk certainly paid off — while not the least bit intellectually challenging, this novel is just a solid, fun read. It's got everything — murder, political scheming, sex (though, these are some of the cheesiest, most unintentionally hilarious sex scenes ever rendered on paper), war, descriptions of architecture, a few touching love stories, and evil characters who get their comeuppances. It's a "story" in the truest sense of the word — Follett only delves into the characters' thoughts when it serves the purpose of advancing the plot or explaining the particular scheme one of them is cooking up. Again, it's not at all deep or literary — it's just a great, great story. Have you read Pillars? What did you think?
There is a sequel to the book called World Without End that takes place in the same fictional town of Kingsbridge about 200 years after the events of Pillars. I have the book on my shelf, and will certainly dive in the next time I'm looking for some good historical brain candy.
And speaking of brain candy, now it's on to The Lost Symbol. I can't believe I just typed those words. Hopefully I can knock this sucker out in about a week...
(One last note — as an addendum to my John Irving post — snooty NY Times reviewer Michiko Kakutani, well-known for hating just about everything, absolutely laid into Irving as a writer in a review published this week. She did add a few positive comments about Twisted River ("...it evolves into a deeply felt and often moving story."), though after basically calling him a sentimental hack, those kind words seem rather begrudging.)