The Assassination of Jesse James by the coward Robert Ford by Robert Hansun
Genre: fictional biography, historical fiction, western
Setting: C19th, USA
He was growing into middle age and was living then in a bungalow on Woodland Avenue. Green weeds split the porch steps, a wasp nest clung to an attic gable, a rope swing looped down from a dying elm tree and the ground below it was scuffed soft as flour.
I think this is one of the rare cases where watching the film version improves your enjoyment of the novel. Maybe because for certain passages I could really here the narrator from the film while I was reading. I think that this might make an excellent audio book. Then again, I’ve never listened to an audio book, so what do I know.
In case you didn’t pick the basic plot up from the title of this novel it revolves around the infamous Jesse James and his murderer Robert “Bob” Ford.
Anyway, despite taking me an age to get through I really enjoyed this book. It is slow, and it does have some shifting narration, so it isn’t the quickest of reads, but I do think that it is a rewarding one. Hansen is wonderful as setting the scene; his descriptions really do come alive.
Some may quibble that he sets historical fact right next to his own opinions and version of what may have happened, but the fact is that this is a novel, not a non-fiction account of what happened, so he has every right to write it from any POV he so wishes.
Basically I just really enjoyed the style of this novel. Like the film it takes its time. It isn’t rushing towards anything. Almost as though Hansen is saying, “look, you know the basic plot, so there is no need to hurry things along. We’ll get there when we get there.” That isn’t to say that it drags, because, imo, it really doesn’t. If I’d’ve had the time I probably could have read this in one setting. It is long though, so I’d have needed quite a while.