This book is wandering mammoth of a story, in roughly the same vein of generational stories like The Thorn Birds, but it falls short of the aforementioned’s greatness because of some serious flaws.
The first thing that jarred me was the shifting third-person perspective that bounces from person to person in the same chapter, and often back and forth on the same page. I don’t mind shifting perspectives in a story, but a clean change in perspective at a break mark or a chapter heading gives the reader a comfortable shift instead of a mid-paragraph awkward jump.
There was also the near-unforgivable naming of the two main characters of Giovanna and Giovanni–again, VERY uncomfortable for a reader (even if they are extremely common Italian names). About a quarter of the way in, their names changed (for the most part) into John and Jane, which was a slight improvement, but the damage of the previous choices was already done, and I was annoyed.
Being a historical story, I expected history–and lots of it–and that’s where the story delivered. I learned almost everything I needed to know about the early development of the Ford empire and how its founder evolved into the man who became buddies with Hitler. But even there, I struggled to enjoy the story because often times those sections of the book felt more like strings of facts and less like a story.
By about three-quarters into the story, it picked up and I was almost propelled to the end, but three-quarters is a long way to drag a reader into a story before they’re hooked.
However, there is something “everyday-ish” to the story, a sense of familiarity that I felt with the characters and the story. The writing style lends itself well to this, even with the previously mentioned errors.
So ultimately, taking the whole of it into account, I’m giving it 2 1/2 stars, rounded to 3.
Thank you to the publisher and to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.