Review: The Son by Philipp Meyer

Philipp Meyer’s The Son was one of those books I knew I was going to love. Not just because of the amazing Globe and Mail review, or the New York Times review, or…well, any number of stellar notices it had been receiving.

I was attracted to the novel by a variety of friends and tweeters talking about it (yes, word of mouth still works!) and I typically love epic sagas. The book itself is not a light read – it takes effort that any great literature does; meaning, don’t expect to drop in for a quick 4 pages here and there. Sit with it, lose hours and hours with it. The payoff is well worth it.

The Son is everything you’ve heard it is. A sweeping, brilliant family drama seen through the eyes of three primary characters: Jeannie McCullough, Peter McCullough and his father Eli. Meyer is masterful with plot, dialogue and character so every motivation and action feels justified and real (even when horrific).

But it is Eli who really stands out. When HarperCollins first published Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes countless reviewers raved that Aminata Diallo was a character who would join rarefied company like Atticus Finch in our collective memory. I think Eli is one of those characters; compelling, conflicted and oh so human. Readers of Cormac McCarthy and Richard Ford will love it.

The Son is one of those rare books that deserve all the hype. And more.

Cory
Follow me on Twitter @corybeatty

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