by Joseph Conrad

Perhaps I'm a victim of the blurb. The back of the book led me to believe this would be the story of a silver heist & buried treasure! This should be hard to put down, I reasoned. Wrong. Nostromo is a bit bland, actually. It's really at least four different tales in one: poli sci, mystery, love story, tragedy. The former theme dominates the page count, and I find it pretty boring—although there is essential character development in the first half of the book that the reader needs for later. It's only in the last 200 pages that the actual caper takes place (which makes for pretty good reading). The last 75 pages get a bit better yet, and then in the last 50 pages a love story develops!?

Either the Conrad I've read prior to this is signature Conrad and Nostromo isn't, or Lord Jim and Heart of Darkness have been the outliers. For one thing, there is no "Marlow" in these pages, and his fallible yet omniscient voice is missed sorely here. (Truth be told, I kind of tune in & out of Conrad's narration in Nostromo.) For another: There are three-dimensional female characters in Nostromo—more than one even! In fact, I daresay a woman is the hero of this story!? There is even living, breathing, working credence given to the idea that a man's love for a woman makes him do ill-advised things. Not honor, not penance, not chivalry, not duty, not courage, not sacrifice, nor anything else stereotypically Conradian. But love.

Which then, Classic Bitch asks, is the more powerful gender: male or female? Classic Bitch also asks: Who is this author, and what has he done with Joseph Conrad? Nostromo is a ponderous, slow-moving, thorough character study—of a lengthy cast of characters, no less—with no easy answers ultimately. In this regard (and contrary to everything else I've written in this review), it is very true to form for this author. Although I didn't have much fun reading Nostromo, I am bloodied but unbowed when it comes to Conrad and am still intrigued, and perhaps even better prepared now, to read the next one...