Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Last of the Mohicans - James Fenimore Cooper

Well, I'm glad I finished it, though I can't really say I enjoyed reading this book. I had such high hopes, and perhaps that was the problem. I remember when the movie came out and we watched it with my Grandpa (who is now 94!) he said that he had read the books when he was around 12 and that they were his favorite stories of all time. He was of course very angry that the movie didn't follow the book.

I am now 30 and finally getting around to reading it and for the life of me I cannot imagine a 12 year old both reading and enjoying this book. The story itself is fine, highly romanticized and inaccurate historical accounts of the Delaware and Hurons. And evil Huron kidnaps one of the English General's two daughters while the General, the fiancé of one of the daughters, and three men they come across - Uncas (the last of the Mohicans), his Father Chingachook and the white Scout who is called "Long Rifle." The story consists mainly of this group saving the girls, then the girls getting captured again, then they save them again, and they are re-captured... all the while we are lectured on the surroundings and the trees and the moss, and the leaves... it is very verbose and tedious, and interrupts what should have been the more interesting parts of the book.

The characters are very weak, with almost no definition and the dialogue is atrocious. In all what should have been a very exciting romp through the North American wilderness is hindered by the execution of the story. There is perhaps a lot of background that I missed by not reading the rest of the “Leather Stalking Tales,” but after reading this, I am not sure that I would be able to sit through much more of Cooper’s style. It was frustrating because I wanted so badly to love this book. Unfortunately I ended up rather ambivalent to it all and will be forced to mark it as simply “Okay.” Though I am glad that I read this, I really don’t think I would recommend it to anyone other than those like myself who are determined to read through most of the Classics.

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