The central scene of Michener's historical novel is that section of Maryland's Eastern shore, hardly more than 10 miles square. To this point come the founders of families that will dominate the story.
A great, serious, historical novel.
The Michener books that I’ve read up to now have been about places, histories and cultures Ththat I’m familiar with. Because of that, I’ll vouch for the accuracy of his research. “Chesapeake” covers a place and culture that I have no experience with, so assuming it’s as accurate as his other books, all I can say is that I’ve learned a lot, including that every place has it’s own peculiar brand of redneck - a fact that never fails to shock me, as if I were born yesterday. Sheesh.
It’s a great book. One of it’s main themes is the torturous evolution of thinking about slavery and the place of African Americans in society. I thought it also offered some good insight into the development of the African American world view. Another big theme is the water-faring culture of the area and the environmental devastation that came in the late 20th century. (Note: Be ready to look up lots of nautical terms and you might like to look at a good map of the Chesapeake area if you can)
The book isn’t perfect. I found it a little sketchy, it completely skips the Civil War and some passages on the slavery debate sound more like court transcripts than natural discourse. Obviously, “Cfhesapeake” is a very long book and while it has plenty of exciting moments, Michener has a gift for making his books seem to move at the pace of real life. I like that kind of long, slow immersion, but many may be impatient with it, you need to get in the mood for it.
The audiobook production is good. I like the narrator, but his reading is strictly no-frills, don’t expect vocal theatre here.
So, “Chesapeake” is a long, immersive historical novel about a unique American region. It has something to interest and also something tedious for everyone. It’s a lot like life, well worth the time.