Fair disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of The Orphanmaster from Penguin in exchange for my review. All opinions below are completely my own.
I finished this book en route to Hawaii, and I can wholeheartedly endorse the book as a gripping plane read. Upon boarding in Minnesota, I had over 200 pages left. I finished the book before we landed in Portland. Truth be told, I kind of wish I had it here, as The Orphanmaster would be a good beach read despite mostly taking place in winter. The end was a total page-turner (see pic, which my husband snapped at a tense point in the plot).
Two pieces of advice for reading this book: don't read the dust jacket description, and don't give up if you find the first 150 pages a little too much backstory. When I was first asked to read The Orphanmaster, I thought the book description was beyond hokey. I won't even mention it here. Just know that this is essentially a mystery novel set in 1600s New York, when the town was small, Dutch, and still called Niewe Amsterdam. And it does take a bit of reading to get the hang of all the various threads of the plot. It is all worth it.
I studied abroad in the Netherlands, so I have a love of all things Dutch. This book definitely came through on that front, with mentions of the groot kamer (great room) and some yummy Dutch treats. The novel was also nicely grounded in history; the author even references her sources at the end of the story.
If you enjoy historical fiction, mysteries, or love stories, you will find this a satisfying book. Wait, I didn't mention the love story in my review? That was a tertiary part of the plot for me (I found the historical details more intriguing), but love is definitely afoot in The Orphanmaster.
I even loaned the book to my mom to read. This can be considered a hearty endorsement of an enjoyable read.
Now, for the most exciting part. Penguin has gifted me a second copy to give away! To enter, leave a comment below suggesting a summer read you love (or, alternately, sharing your love of Dutch culture). I will make my husband randomly pick a comment to receive this book. Comments must be made by June 26th, 2012, and you must leave an email address where I can reach you (the email can just go in the email line below - just make sure it is good for contacting you).
Also reviewing today are three blog friends. Go check out their reviews, and enter on their blogs for another chance to win a copy of The Orphanmaster. I really recommend reading their posts, as they touched on other sides of the story that I didn't get around to mentioning.Definitely RA's review of our wonderful read
This Confetti Life gets in on the action (and thanks to Janet for arranging this mini-book club!)
Also, visit Big Mario Life for her review . Also, side note: thanks to the Apple Store for letting me mooch off their internet so I could finish coding this post!
Enjoy, and happy reading!