Trying to review a book so broad in scope and rich in flavor as Anne Rice’s Feast of All Saints is mildly paralyzing. I could tell you how much I liked it. (It was thoroughly enjoyable.) I could describe to you the tone. (It was written elegantly and with luscious detail in a way that challenges a person’s command of both history and the English language.) Or I could try to summarize the plot. (But Rice weaves together so many stories here, I am hesitant to single out just one.)
This is a wonderful piece of historical fiction set in 19th century Louisiana, primarily in New Orleans. The characters form a crazy quilt of race, class, wealth, personality, religion, status, ambition, and relationships.
The reader is taken on a tour of the lives of white plantation owners, Creole families, black slaves and rebels from Jamaica, educated Les Gens De Couleur, and much more. We get to immerse ourselves for a while in the dilemmas of living at a time when slavery was falling out of favor in much of the country but was still a viable (if not vital) cultural element in the deep south.
What a gut wrenching display of humanity Rice builds by simply telling the stories of young men and women coming of age at this crux in history.
Please consider reading this book, and please consider doing so in tandem with any good piece of biography you can find about Abraham Lincoln. The fictional illustrations of the end of slavery are fascinating. Thinking through the application of historical facts to the every day lives and long term fates of real people, this is what really solidifies our impressions of events that took place not very long ago.
And if the seriousness of such a read does nothing for you, then rest assured that The Feast of All Saints is a captivating, sexy, action-filled, emotional, politically charged novel worthy of every beach bag and airplane carry on!