An ambitious chronicle of early Twentieth Century life in and around Princeton University is the backdrop for The Accursed, a novel reportedly thirty years in the making.
M.W. van Dyck II is portrayed as the author and narrator. Accursed refers to the strange, almost demonic occurrences that seemingly creep into the daily lives of Princeton University’s leaders, as well as those of certain well-known political figures living in and around Princeton in the early years of the Twentieth Century.
We meet these historic characters amongst a cast of fictional ones. The times seem historically correct, and the events could be stunning and compelling. But the lengthy and often unwieldy storytelling left me fatigued and disappointed, as the author is one I have enjoyed on several occasions.
I most enjoyed the chapters dealing with the character, Annabel, who was about to be married. Less appealing was the character, Woodrow Wilson, who would later become President of the United States. At the time, he was President of Princeton, and in a perceived competition with another staff member. His behavior and expressed feelings in his social interactions bordered on paranoia. These qualities made him somewhat unappealing, but also interesting.
When I would find myself in one of the sections that interested me, my reading pace picked up. The prose flowed, perhaps because I felt connected to the characters. But other sections, and they were more numerous, dragged and left me feeling distracted. I would reread paragraphs, because I could not connect to anything that was happening.
I have read and enjoyed numerous lengthy books, but for some reason, this one did not engage me. Perhaps because of the somewhat tedious sections, but also because there was a lot of repetition.
Others have enjoyed the book, however, so readers should refer to those reviews when drawing their conclusions. For me, this book earned 3.5 stars.