A new book review! Finally! Right before Christmas I had that aching need to go to a real bookstore – an honest brick and mortar independent bookstore – to buy one book. We have sworn off buying new books and are really trying to get rid of our library to declutter and downsize our stuff. The book store we chose was Appletree Books on Cedar Road and, on the recommendation of one of the store clerks, I chose The World of Tomorrow by Brendan Mathews. The book is more than 500 pages, I finished it today as freezing temperatures have settled in and my husband, David, was making a pot of his best chili.
I hardly choose historical novels, but something about the bold futurism of the 1939 World’s Fair appealed to me, as did the cover flap indication that it was a family saga about three Irish brothers reunited for one week in New York City. Martin is a musician who has made a home for his family in America. Francis, formerly an inmate in an Irish jail, has come to American with his mute and ailing brother Michael, formerly a seminary student in Ireland. Francis and Michael were reunited for their father’s funeral, and after a serious of treacherous events, find themselves richer than kings and able to afford passage to America on an ocean liner where they pose as Scottish aristocrats.
The cast of secondary characters includes an IRA assassin, a forlorn Czech photographer, real aristocrats, the hotel staff at the opulent Plaza Hotel and the ghost of William Butler Yeats. Surprisingly, the ghost character was one of my least favorite.
Elements of a thriller were over-shadowed by the lush prose and unhurried pace of the novel, that looped into back story and back into the posh modernism of the present. I lost myself in the book and when I put it down, I googled images of the 1939 World Fair – which looks amazing by today’s standards.
This is Brendan Mathews first novel, and a good bookstore recommendation. I imagine it would make a good movie, but mostly I just like that it made me imagine the “world of tomorrow”.