“The Name of the Rose” by Umberto Eco
(Note: I wish I could have found an image of the cover of the edition of this book I actually read. I found it at the book swap in my office, and its a 1980s movie tie-in edition with Sean Connery’s face on the front. Yeah, it’s pretty spectacular.)
Alright, so “The Name of the Rose” was apparently Umberto Eco’s first novel, and it was the thing to read upon it’s initial release. The story of Brother William, who winds up investigating the mysterious deaths of several monks, captivated readers and was made into a movie starring Sean Connery, F. Murray Abraham, and a young Christian Slater. From the synopsis and the hype, I figured it’d be a good read.
Having finished it, I’m a little disappointed. I wanted it to be better. Though there are definitely solid elements – Eco writes in gorgeous detail about every inch of the monastery – the whole thing drags. There’s the Inquisition, and underground tunnels, and sex, and the whole thing revolves around cleverly-placed poison and a book, so the fact that it’s kind of a snore is seriously disappointing. Brother William is a Sherlock Holmes-esque character who’s obviously well-developed and incredibly smart, but it’s a shame the mystery he’s charged with solving isn’t more interesting.
That said, the movie streams on Netflix and I’m planning to watch it soon. Maybe in the hands of a good director, things can be snipped and swapped and a compelling story can emerge.