Tuesday, July 31

Book Review: The Sentimentalists

Title: The Sentimentalists

Author: Johanna Skibsrud

Pages: 218

Summary: Haunted by the vivid horrors of the Vietnam War, exhausted from years spent battling memories, Napoleon Haskell leaves his North Dakota trailer and moves to Canada.

He retreats to a small Ontario town where Henry, the father of his fallen Vietnam comrade, has a home on ashore of a manmade lake. Under the water is the wreckage of what was once the town - and the home where Henry was raised.

When Napoleon’s daughter arrives, fleeing troubles of her own, she finds her father in the twilight of his life, and rapidly slipping into senility. With love and insatiable curiosity, she devotes herself to learning the truth about his life; and through the fog, Napoleon’s past begins to emerge.

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Parts of the book I enjoyed and other aspects were a little off putting, but overall the book was a fairly good book.

One of the best aspects of the book was the writing. Something about the writing was what initially grabbed my attention, and what kept me reading. The quality of the writing and style very well done. The author easily creates a strong voice for the narrative which sets the tone throughout the entire book.

I enjoyed the first half of the book more than the second half. Mostly because the time lime jumped around less in the first half, than in the second last and the narrative switched around less. While I did enjoy the look into what may have happened in Vietnam, by the point it gets to the climax the story is being pulled by multiple different timelines and viewpoints it became hard to piece it all together to one plot line. There was some good stuff within all of this, but it took a while to get there and it became almost a struggle to read through.

In the end I liked the overall story, but I did have a few issues with it as well.

Would I recommend it to read: I probably would. Overall a good story it does jump around a bit. But I think there are readers who would enjoy the story.

What to read next: Paco's Story, Annabel and other Giller Winners and Finalists

Challenges: 12 in 12, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Reading Challenge VI, Mount TBR Challenge, New Author Challenge


  1. Knowing that this one was a struggle to read, I am not sure if I would like it. It does have an interesting premise, and the fact that the writing is really good makes me curious, but ultimately, I think the shifting perspective would bother me. Nice review! I got a real flavor of the book from your thoughts!

    1. It was an interesting premise, and award winner, so I wanted to read it. Not the greatest, although I think many readers would enjoy it. Glad my review helped.

  2. From what I can tell, this one would probably count for the MIA Challenge as well (sounds like the father most likely has PTSD?)

    In any case, it's going on my wishlist!

    1. Come to think of it, he may suffer from PTSD. They never really say, but he is declining throughout the book, and in the end it touches on his mental state. More so dementia. But, this would be a good choice for the MIA challenge.