So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Road to Wellville. T. C. Boyle

The Road to Wellville takes the reader to Battle Creek Michigan at the beginning of the 20th century, a place and time where the modern health food and breakfast food industries were born. Two men arrive on a train, and we follow their experiences in Battle Creek. Will Lightbody arrives with his wife Eleanor to go to the famous Sanitorium run by John Harvey Kellogg seeking a cure to his digestive problems. Charlie Ossining wants to make it rich quick in the breakfast cereal industry started by Dr. Kellogg's brother William and his competitor C. W. Post.

Although the novel is written in the third person, the reader sees the story evolve through the perspective of these two men. Other characters suffer from this approach, especially the women, like Eleanor Lightbody, whom Will and Charlie never seem to understand.

The novel differs from the movie, which remains true to the plot and characterization, in that the novel portrays the inner longings and motivations of these two men, while the movie stresses the visual aspects of what they see and do. This makes the movie both funnier and a bit more removed than the novel.

The historicity of the book is well developed. Most of the people, places and events can be confirmed from the record. This is a great book to read if one is interested in healthy living and wants to know the background of today's health movement.


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