by Dara Horn
"Dying for a cause is the last resort of those too weak to live for one." (All Other Nights, p. 230)
How is tonight different from all other nights? For Jacob Rappaport, a Jewish soldier in the Union army during the Civil War, it is a question his commanders have already answered for him -- on Passover, 1862, he is ordered to murder his own uncle in New Orleans, who is plotting to assassinate President Lincoln. After this harrowing mission, Jacob is recruited to pursue another enemy agent, the daughter of a Virginia family friend. But this time, his assignment isn't to murder the spy, but to marry her. (From the jacket flap)
Let me begin by stating outright that I enjoyed this book overall. Now let me explain why I'm not gushing over it:
In the early 90's, I spent a few years reading and reviewing romance novels almost exclusively, 90% of them being historical romance. I read a lot of fantastic books, and I read a lot of not so fantastic books. It took me a long time to understand the common thread that often led me to feel one way or the other. When a book revolved mainly around the relationship between the main characters with other plot elements seemingly included merely to give them something to do, I got bored very quickly. I was much more drawn to books that had a meaty plot line out of which the relationship grew.
All Other Nights is not a romance novel, but my theory still holds true. While the story focused on the Civil War and the problems Jacob faced as a Jewish man in the Union army, I was enthralled. Once the novel started shifting the focus to the relationship between Jacob and Jeannie, a relationship which seemed to me to have no basis for real strength, I lost steam. I still enjoyed the book, but it was a lot easier to put down and go to sleep. There is a decent balance between the two so I didn't lose interest completely, but then when I got to the final page I felt as if the book ended in mid-thought. I didn't feel the closure. I have to say in the book's defense that that is most likely the result of my desire to know more about what was going on regarding the retreat of the Confederacy and the plans for Lincoln's fate. Other readers who are more interested in the relationship between Jacob and Jeannie may feel differently about the ending and find it very satisfying.
Have you read this book? Which aspect did you find most intriguing? If you have not read it, do you find you have a preference for action- or plot-based stories or relationship-based stories whether they be man/woman, parent/child, or friendship?
Official Web Site for All Other Nights
NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)
Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!