Pierre Review- Hannah McCann

              Pierre by Herman Melville was an interesting book to say the least. Honestly, it was unlike any of the books that I have read before. In my opinion, the plot of the book was adequate. It kept me engaged and made me want to continue reading. It had lots of very unexpected events and decisions which were exciting. These events included Pierre deciding to “marry” his sister, Pierre finding out his mother had died 25 days after she was in the ground, and Pierre, his sister, and his long-lost lover, Lucy, deciding to kill themselves (in one single page). However, it had some extremely strange parts that left me puzzled. For example, the book began and Pierre continuously called his mother sister and his mother continuously called him brother. I found this quite strange and a little disturbing. His obsessions were also quite strange, especially his obsession with his mother and his family line. He could talk about his family line for 50 pages and I could not have been less interested.

Now I know that I said the plot of the book was good, but the difficult part was finding the plot amongst Pierre’s long drawn out inner thoughts and feelings. It was incredibly difficult to restrain myself from skipping over his thoughts and going straight to each tidbit of plot that Melville gave us every now and then. Personally, I think that this book could have been written in 100 pages or less if the plot would have been the main focus. For most books, the plot is usually the most important and pronounced part. However, for Pierre, the plot was just sprinkled here and there. The main focus was what was going on in the head of Pierre. This may have been interesting to some people but I had little to no interest in learning about Pierre’s grandfather or about his thoughts when he laid in bed at night or about a rock. He talked about a rock for several pages. Just a rock. Melville also added a portion of the book after he published it that, to me, had little to no relevance. Pierre went from trying to find a home for himself, his sister, and Delly, to becoming an author. It was a very strange sequence of events that felt rushed. There were portions of the book that felt incredibly rushed such as the ending, and then there were portions that felt unbearably slow. It was as if Melville was always on one side of the spectrum and never in the middle like he should have been.

Melville’s style of writing made me very angry. However, the story was intriguing and I enjoyed it. I think that he put more than enough unnecessary details in this book. I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if he would have sprinkled unnecessary details in with the plot rather than sprinkling the plot in with all of the unnecessary details. Overall, I would not recommend this book to anyone that is not assigned to read it. If you are assigned to read it, find those sprinkles of plot.