1. What do you think of the structure of the novel? It’s a story within a story (sort of within a story). We have Professor Rossi’s storyline, Paul’s reflections, and the daughter’s adventures. And letters. There’s a lot going on!
The structure was really interesting at first, but as the novel goes on, I'm finding the epistolary nature of the story a bit credulous. It's also a bit confusing trying to remember what story we're in and who's talking, which document or letter is being referred to...
2. What are your thoughts on Helen’s characterization? Have you warmed to her?
I liked Helen from the start. I assume Kostova is setting her up to be the mother. She's sassy and interesting. I like strong female characters.
3. What do you think of the peripheral characters? Are their motivations pure? I’m thinking of Turget, Helen’s family members, etc.
I'm trying to be an idealist! So I'm hoping these periphery characters are all on the up and up. I just find it so mysterious that so many people are and have been pursuing Vlad aka Dracula all this time. I guess I'm just not sure on where their motivations lie...Good is what I'm hoping for :)
4. Other thoughts on this book?
It's fascinating, for sure. I'm enjoying the travel from place to place. She really makes me want to travel to the Romanian mountains and Bulgaria and Turkey! Two complaints: The first I made reference to in question 1, but the other complaint is it drags a bit in the middle. But really amazing, overall, that this is her first novel! Just wow.