90. (July 2020) The Great Eastern by Howard Rodman
I don't think I ever made an announcement thread for this, though I did mention it in the Newsletter thread, so hopefully this is only a reminder and won't come as a shocking surprise!
My pick for our July book is The Great Eastern by Howard A. Rodman. Here's the back cover blurb:
A sprawling adventure pitting two of literature’s most iconic anti-heroes against each other: Captain Nemo and Captain Ahab. Caught between them: real-life British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, builder of the century’s greatest ship, The Great Eastern. But when he’s kidnapped by Nemo to help design a submarine with which to fight the laying of the Translatlantic cable - linking the two colonialist forces Nemo hates, England and the US - Brunel finds himself going up against his own ship, and the strange man hired to protect it, Captain Ahab, in a battle for the soul of the 19th century.
And here's an excerpt from a review. I'm halfway through the book now and quite agree with this, however I expect I may be in for some battle from the likes of you that dislike Moby Dick. But if reading Moby Dick for the slow read is going to be my white whale, then maybe this book is my gold doubloon, nailed to the mast in an effort to entice you to join me at the end!
I'm just kidding - I know I won't change anyone's mind. Hopefully you'll indulge me. One thing's for certain - this is like the polar opposite of the Broken Earth trilogy.
Ultimately, The Great Eastern reads like a sprawling 19th-century novel that rollicks with the sense of adventure and mystery that so informs Verne’s best work. It is an engaging tale, a kind of return to what adventurous literature used to be that never loses sight of where literature — and its most complex, unforgettable characters — can still go.
And special incentive for @clash_bowley (to whom I already owe 2 years worth of book club fees for making him buy a book he couldn't read, so why not go for the trifecta) Brian Eno is credited in the acknowledgements section.