City of Secrets
By Stewart O’Nan
Viking, Hardcover, 9780670785964, April 2016, 208pp.
The Short of It:
O’Nan is a master storyteller. He can take any topic and make it good
The Rest of It:
A noirish, deeply felt novel of intrigue and identity written in O’Nan’s trademark lucent style, City of Secrets asks how both despair and faith can lead us astray, and what happens when, with the noblest intentions, we join movements beyond our control.
In 1945, Jewish refugees were forced to flee to Palestine. There, they had to rely on the underground for survival. As you can imagine, taking on new identities and trying to blend created quite a challenge. City of Secrets follows a man named Brand, as he tries to navigate the new life he is forced to live.
This is one of those situations where the topic isn’t really my thing but because of O’Nan’s writing and an effort on my part to step outside of my comfort zone , I decided to read it anyway. That said, O’Nan delivers quite a satisfying read. As Brand’s character evolves, things become more complex which makes the reading a little tense at times.
All in all, I think this is a very different book for O’Nan. I’ve read many of his books and this one has a different feel than some of his others. He always manages to deliver strong characters and a good story though which is why I continue to go back to him and this one is so short!
With all of the summer reading lists coming out right now, this one is a little different but if the subject matter appeals to you give it a go.
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher via Edelweiss.
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8 thoughts on “Review: City of Secrets”
This book sounds like one that Anna and I would read. I missed O’Nan at the Gaithersburg Book Festival this year, but I’ve heard him speak before, and he’s just fascinating. I’m glad you liked this one.
I’ve never tried O’Nan but really want to. This sounds like a book I’d enjoy.
I generally love O’Nan, but this doesn’t sound like my kind of book. I’m still a little gun-shy after West of Sunset. Had some issues with that one, but remember that you were much more positive. I might return to his backlist for now and see how the reviews shake out with City of Secrets.
I can’t say I have ever read a novel of his before, but you have me intrigued.
I agree with you that a master storyteller can make any topic good. What a different book for O’Nan — I’m quite curious. He seems to pull it off too.
I know what you mean about it being outside your comfort zone…And you’re right, perhaps it’s not the right season for it, either. And yet… I am intrigued alright 🙂
You’re right. If I had had a choice on when to read it, I would have read it after summer but it was a review copy and I love the author so I read it right away. Still enjoyed it.
I went back and forth about this one, because of it being O’Nan. But the fact that I was going back and forth finally convinced me that I should pass. Too many I flat out can’t resist!