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Review: The World is Not Enough, by Zoe Oldenbourg

Pages: 592
Original date of publication: 1946
My edition:
Why I decided to read:
How I acquired my copy: Philly bookstore, April 2012

The World is Not Enough is set in France in the late 12th century. Opening with the marriage of Alis and Ansiau, the reader is immediately thrust into the lives of these characters and the time they lived in, right up through old age. The focus of the novel is on the Crusades, which Ansiau participates in, leaving Alis at home to manage the household and become a person in her own right.

The strength of the novel lies in the amount of detail with which the author provides the reader, but I thought that at times the detail bogged down the pace and progress of the story, making the book at least 100 pages longer than it really needed to be. We also get told a lot of things rather than have them shown to us, which made the novel much less interesting to read. The prose is also stilted, which may have more to do with the translation of the book (originally published in French) rather than the author’s actual style. In the end I found that I didn’t really like many of the characters or care about what happened to them, so I stopped reading at around 200 pages. I don't know how the author did it, but she even managed to make the Crusades seem uninteresting--and medieval history was my specialty in college. 


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