Mini Book Review: The Rainborowes

The Rainborowes CoverBook: The Rainborowes: One Family’s Quest To Build A New England by Adrian Tinniswood

Expected Publication Is September 8, 2013 by Basic Books|Expected Number Of Pages: 367

Series: None

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction- History

Goodreads|Check Out Adrian Tinniswood’s Website

Goodreads Summary: The period between 1630 and 1660 was one of the most tumultuous in Western history. These three decades witnessed the birth of New England and, in the mother country, a chaotic civil war that rent the very fabric of English social, political, and religious life. At the center of this turbulent time was an outsized family: the Rainborowes. Shipmasters and soldiers, entrepreneurs and idealists, they bridged two worlds as they struggled to forge a better future for themselves and their kin. In The Rainborowes, acclaimed historian Adrian Tinniswood follows this singular clan from hectic London shipyards to remote Aegean islands, from muddy Boston streets to the bloodiest battles of the English Civil War, revealing their indelible mark on both America and England.

A feat of historical reporting, The Rainborowes spans oceans and generations to describe a family—and a people—struggling to find its identity.

I have really mixed feelings about The Rainborowes.  It is interesting to see this family in the context of a very tumultuous time, and on two different continents.  But I also felt like the book had a jumble of names and dates and events that was hard for me to keep track of.  It just seems like the Rainborowes had a lot going on and were really involved in important events, and I wish I had taken notes so I could keep better track of everything.  I think me not keeping up with everything was pretty much my fault, since I didn’t pay as much attention as I could have.  I did find myself going back a few pages a few times, because I felt like I missed something important.

I think another reason why I have mixed feelings is that I wasn’t expecting a book about the family and how they fit in to what was going on around them.  While it is the best way to talk about this very large family, I think I was expecting more about them.  I liked some of the details about life in New England, especially some of the details about the churches they attended, but there were times when the book got bogged down in the details.

I think the thing I liked the most about The Rainborowes is that I was reminded of how there are people and families throughout history that played a really important part in things and yet they don’t get the recognition they deserve.

The Rainborowes also felt a little over the place, and just when I got used to reading about one side of the Atlantic, the book would switch locations, and we’d be on the other side of the Atlantic.  It did seem pretty linear, but there was something non-linear about it at the same time.

Final Thoughts:

I’m not sure what else to say about The Rainborowes.  It is an interesting look at a family I had never heard of before and how instrumental they were on both sides of the Atlantic, but the book got weighed down in the details at times, and I had trouble keeping track of the many people in the book.  While interesting, I don’t think it’s the book for me.  The Rainborowes gets 2 stars.


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