Book Reviews

Value and Significance

Often a book review comments on the significance of a new work. This value may be measured in relation to other books in the same genre, works addressing the same subject matter, past and contemporary authors with a similar style, and/or previous works by the same author.

In his review of William Trevor's The Story of Lucy Gault, David Milofsky compares the novel to Trevor's past works, and comments on its place in literature in general: "[Trevor]'s been called the Irish Chekhov, but that's not really adequate, since Chekhov never really wrote novels. The truth is that Trevor is sui generis, in a class by himself. While his stories (collected a few years ago in an omnibus volume) are brilliant, novels like The Old Boys and Felicia's Journey are lasting contributions to our literature. He's a literary treasure and never less than interesting reading . . . The Story of Lucy Gault may not be the most accomplished novel of Trevor's distinguished career, but that still places it far beyond most of the fiction that will be written in English this year. It's highly recommended reading."

Value is also determined by the universality of application-how and to whom the work applies. Are the book's contents of universal interest? Or does the subject matter limit the book's appeal to a narrow field of individuals? Determining the value and significance of a book depends largely on the knowledge and subjectivity of the reviewer; familiarity with comparable books and authors is required to draw conclusions of this nature.

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Introduction