I thought this was a super epic that detailed some of the momentous events both in Europe and America from 1848-1850. It ranged from the revolution in Paris in 1848 to the California gold rush. It follows the life of Ben Knowles as he moves from Europe to America, falls in love, and journeys to the far west along with a few flawed friends he meets in New York. Along the way they encounter various religious groups living in "utopias" in the Midwest as well as the Mormons emigrating from Missouri to Salt Lake City. I could definitely relate to this part of the novel since I grew up in Utah and have a Mormon background. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of early New York - it reminded me of another great novel about New York in the late 1800s that I read recently and would recommend: Metropolis by Elizabeth Gaffney. All in all, I would highly recommend "Heyday."
A big (622 page)book, but very good. I am a retired World History and American teacher and had forgotten what a wonderful year 1848 was in this old world. This is the story of 4 adventurers, one 40ish Jack of all trades who is "up" for almost anything; a young Mexican- American War deserter who is haunted by the violence he has seen; his sister, a part time actress and part-time prostitute, and an adventurous Englishman who must find his own fortune since the family inheritance in England went to his older brother. The author works the inventions, the revolutions in Europe, the entertainment and even the culture and the everyday slang skillfully into his story as our four heros make their way to the goldfields of California. Along the way they interact with the Mormons and the utopian societies so popular in that age. These groups were the "hippies" and counter-culture of their time and very interesting to read about.
Perhaps the book is a couple of chapters too long, but it is well worth reading and gives great insight into the enthusiasm of this year. I especially appreciated his insight into the lives of women in l848. If one was not married by 18 or 20 years old, little was left for the women except prostitution or 15 hour a day work in the factories. We've come a long way, baby.
An interesting historical novel set in England and the U.S. in the 1840's.
Wide ranging and lots of histocic details and adventure, including some dealings during the gold rush and unexpected outcomes. Worth a read.
Fantastic and epic tale of a motley group of friends who are in the midst of the heyday of revolution. The characters are well developed and the story, while fictitious reflects the obvious care that the other gave to research of the time - its trends, language, styles, culture and crimes. Fans of historical fiction (i.e. Devil in the White City) will enjoy this book.
I thought this book was a bit slow to get started, but I'm glad I stuck with it. I think there were too many characters in the beginning, but once the story focused on the four main characters (okay, maybe there were five or six), it was a delightful journey back in time. The author was able to convey a lot of historical information about what was going on in America (and elsewhere) during that time frame, which really made the story come to life.