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Will Lightbody is a man with a stomach ailment whose only sin is loving his wife, Eleanor, too much. Eleanor is a health nut of the first stripe, and when in 1907 she journeys to Dr. John Harvey Kellogg's infamous Battle Creek Spa to live out the vegetarian ethos, poor Will goes too. So begins T. Coraghessan Boyle's wickedly comic look at turn-of-the-century fanatics in se Will Lightbody is a man with a stomach ailment whose only sin is loving his wife, Eleanor, too much. Eleanor is a health nut of the first stripe, and when in 1907 she journeys to Dr. John Harvey Kellogg's infamous Battle Creek Spa to live out the vegetarian ethos, poor Will goes too. So begins T. Coraghessan Boyle's wickedly comic look at turn-of-the-century fanatics in search of the magic pill to prolong their lives--or the profit to be had from manufacturing it. Brimming with a Dickensian cast of characters and laced with wildly wonderful plot twists, Jane Smiley in the New York Times Book Review called The Road to Wellville "A marvel, enjoyable from beginning to end."


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Will Lightbody is a man with a stomach ailment whose only sin is loving his wife, Eleanor, too much. Eleanor is a health nut of the first stripe, and when in 1907 she journeys to Dr. John Harvey Kellogg's infamous Battle Creek Spa to live out the vegetarian ethos, poor Will goes too. So begins T. Coraghessan Boyle's wickedly comic look at turn-of-the-century fanatics in se Will Lightbody is a man with a stomach ailment whose only sin is loving his wife, Eleanor, too much. Eleanor is a health nut of the first stripe, and when in 1907 she journeys to Dr. John Harvey Kellogg's infamous Battle Creek Spa to live out the vegetarian ethos, poor Will goes too. So begins T. Coraghessan Boyle's wickedly comic look at turn-of-the-century fanatics in search of the magic pill to prolong their lives--or the profit to be had from manufacturing it. Brimming with a Dickensian cast of characters and laced with wildly wonderful plot twists, Jane Smiley in the New York Times Book Review called The Road to Wellville "A marvel, enjoyable from beginning to end."

30 review for The Road to Wellville (Contemporary American Fiction)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Warwick

    This fat, picaresque novel focuses on the elite but quackish sanitarium run by Dr JH Kellogg in Battle Creek, Michigan, in the early days of breakfast cereals. Kellogg was a powerful orator, a staunch vegetarian and a proponent of the kind of health fads that we'd nowadays class as alternative medicine; he also had some morbidly puritanical ideas about sex (cornflakes, famously, were originally intended to stop people masturbating – on what principle, I'm not sure, unless he planned to scatter t This fat, picaresque novel focuses on the elite but quackish sanitarium run by Dr JH Kellogg in Battle Creek, Michigan, in the early days of breakfast cereals. Kellogg was a powerful orator, a staunch vegetarian and a proponent of the kind of health fads that we'd nowadays class as alternative medicine; he also had some morbidly puritanical ideas about sex (cornflakes, famously, were originally intended to stop people masturbating – on what principle, I'm not sure, unless he planned to scatter them in people's beds). The closed world of the sanitarium is a promisingly insular setting for the kind of comic novel that TC Boyle likes to write, and he manages to take in everything here from yogurt enemas, through insane diets (‘protose patties with gluten mush’, anyone?), budding entrepreneurs, down-and-outs, tycoons, alcoholism, opioid addiction, animal experimentation and the nascent nudist movement, all the way to the infamous ‘womb massage’ treatment for hysteria. In a novel of two hundred pages, all this would have been a riot; at just shy of five hundred, I found it ultimately exhausting. Boyle's sense of humour does not quite agree with me: his main technique involves setting his characters up for great success, allowing them to reach the brink of attaining something wonderful, and then making sure that they fail in the most humiliating and unpleasant way possible at the last minute. I think this is supposed to be comic, but the effect on me was draining. (I vaguely remember feeling something similar during the last TC Boyle book I read, Water Music, too.) In this case, the ending (view spoiler)[turned out to be quite a happy one, which, unusually for me, actually made up for a lot (hide spoiler)] . It's almost worth dipping into The Road to Wellville just to sample the mood of this strange time and place, which really is fascinating. But overall, it's not so much Gr-r-reat! as Aver-r-rage! (view spoiler)[No I'm not proud of it. (hide spoiler)] Edit: Last night we watched the film version from 1994, directed by Alan Parker. It's great fun, and solves a lot of the problems with the book's plot – and it only requires an investment of two hours. So on balance, I'd recommend that instead.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Donna Napier

    TC Boyle is one of my favorite authors because I simply fall in love with his sentences. The man writes such incredible sentences! The Road to Wellville is a captivating story, too, so between the brilliant sentence structure and the fascinating story line, I was spellbound until the ending. Unfortunately, like other TC Boyle novels I've read, the ending missed the mark for me. It seems that Boyle paints himself into a corner and then just decides that the only way out is to walk back across the TC Boyle is one of my favorite authors because I simply fall in love with his sentences. The man writes such incredible sentences! The Road to Wellville is a captivating story, too, so between the brilliant sentence structure and the fascinating story line, I was spellbound until the ending. Unfortunately, like other TC Boyle novels I've read, the ending missed the mark for me. It seems that Boyle paints himself into a corner and then just decides that the only way out is to walk back across the wet paint. Still, I would recommend the Road to Wellville. The journey across the room and into the corner is well worth the read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before, but I'd be hard-pressed to name another author who so effectively combines humor with dread. In every book by T.C. Boyle – this one included – I cringe as I read because I know some horrible reckoning will befall most of the main characters, but the journey to that reckoning is so frequently punctuated with humor and absurdity that I feel terrible enjoying these characters' downfalls so damn much. Like so many of Boyle's other books, The Road to Wellvil I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before, but I'd be hard-pressed to name another author who so effectively combines humor with dread. In every book by T.C. Boyle – this one included – I cringe as I read because I know some horrible reckoning will befall most of the main characters, but the journey to that reckoning is so frequently punctuated with humor and absurdity that I feel terrible enjoying these characters' downfalls so damn much. Like so many of Boyle's other books, The Road to Wellville is based at least partially in fact. This time he trains his eye on the health food and clean-living "sanitarium" ("San," for short) run by John Harvey Kellogg in Battle Creek, Michigan in the early days of the 20th century. The story nimbly takes in Kellogg's fanaticism (his prescription for the San's patients seems to mainly revolve around seaweed and enemas), the sad lives of a few of the San's patients, a pair of traveling hucksters who hope to cash in on the new breakfast cereal craze, and Kellogg's ne'er-do-well adoptive son. Of these characters, Boyle is most interested in the way three men's lives intersect: Kellogg; Will Lightbody, a patient whose digestive system has been wrecked, Kellogg believes, by a life of eating meat and drinking booze; and Charlie Ossining, the younger of the pair who hopes to make his name in breakfast food. Multiple games of cat and mouse ensue, as Kellogg tries to get Lightbody to buy into the San's health food regimen; Ossining tries to get Lightbody to invest in his new brand of cereal; and Lightbody just wants to eat steak and get it on with his nubile nurse. The book is always funny, but there are always those tendrils of dread twining their way into and through the book's pages, reminding us that this is T.C. Boyle, after all, and this surely won't end well for anyone.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Carla Remy

    A very interesting story of the hilarious Edwardian Patent Medication Situation, Sanitariums and the Breakfast Food Bubble with its Cereal Profiteers, set in 1907 at the Kelllogg Health Spa in Battle Creek, Michigan. Based on real life history. But I am unable to fully say I enjoyed this. Because I can not understand why this book is so long (Penguin paperback 476 pages). Not that much happens and it doesn't span that much time. I would remove at least a third. There is a good book in there. A very interesting story of the hilarious Edwardian Patent Medication Situation, Sanitariums and the Breakfast Food Bubble with its Cereal Profiteers, set in 1907 at the Kelllogg Health Spa in Battle Creek, Michigan. Based on real life history. But I am unable to fully say I enjoyed this. Because I can not understand why this book is so long (Penguin paperback 476 pages). Not that much happens and it doesn't span that much time. I would remove at least a third. There is a good book in there.

  5. 4 out of 5

    JTT

    Done to a turn, like a Porterhouse steak, grilled to a perfect medium rare. Or should I say: "like a Protose Pattie perfectly congealed." This is an excellent, well-written, funny novel about Kellogg and Battle Creek in its heyday. An incredible amount of research must have been undertaken in order to craft such a classic piece of American fiction. I don't know how TC Boyle does it. Like his book on the Kinseys, he writes with so much confidence and factual detail you'd think he'd lived in these Done to a turn, like a Porterhouse steak, grilled to a perfect medium rare. Or should I say: "like a Protose Pattie perfectly congealed." This is an excellent, well-written, funny novel about Kellogg and Battle Creek in its heyday. An incredible amount of research must have been undertaken in order to craft such a classic piece of American fiction. I don't know how TC Boyle does it. Like his book on the Kinseys, he writes with so much confidence and factual detail you'd think he'd lived in these times and these places and had access to the most intimate personal thoughts and events in his characters' lives. I'll remember this book every time I eat a bowl of cereal or hear some quack on TV touting the latest energy drink or vitamin.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Magdelanye

    Read this so long ago that all i can remember is that i started skeptical and warmed up fast to this relevant spoof

  7. 5 out of 5

    Chance Lee

    The Road to Wellville is an at-times fascinating, at-times dull historical fiction about John Harvey Kellogg and his cult-like following of health nuts at the turn of the century. The fascinating parts are really fascinating and the dull parts are, thankfully, not that dull, thanks to T.C. Boyle's expertise with the English language. If thinks had moved along at a brisker pace, it would have held my attention better. This is billed as a comic novel, but maybe the long passages made me too drowsy The Road to Wellville is an at-times fascinating, at-times dull historical fiction about John Harvey Kellogg and his cult-like following of health nuts at the turn of the century. The fascinating parts are really fascinating and the dull parts are, thankfully, not that dull, thanks to T.C. Boyle's expertise with the English language. If thinks had moved along at a brisker pace, it would have held my attention better. This is billed as a comic novel, but maybe the long passages made me too drowsy to see the comedy. Unless I was supposed to laugh at how silly these people were. Oh, they thought eating corn flakes would make them immortal, oh, ha-ha, chuckles all around. I don't think mocking is the point of the novel; however, the ridiculously farcical ending makes me wonder (an angry wolf, a feisty monkey, a someone throwing jars of fecal samples). Although I did laugh when Kellogg ordered that the goose be given an enema, laughing at these people for their misguided, archaic efforts at health would be shortsighted. In a hundred years, what we're doing /today/ will be considered silly, ridiculous, and maybe downright dangerous, just as much as the sinusoidal baths and the yogurt enemas of the early 1900s.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Pete

    3.5 stars, really, but goodreads' war on subtlety continues. as a stylistic exercise this is a triumph. as an actual novel, something south of there, although not like antarctica south. very much in the vein of new yorker humor articles -- where my response is "ah, i see this person is making a joke" as opposed to actually laughing or feeling amused. there were a few exceptions: the repetition of "womb manipulation" toward the end gets pretty funny. but a lot of the other stuff really felt formu 3.5 stars, really, but goodreads' war on subtlety continues. as a stylistic exercise this is a triumph. as an actual novel, something south of there, although not like antarctica south. very much in the vein of new yorker humor articles -- where my response is "ah, i see this person is making a joke" as opposed to actually laughing or feeling amused. there were a few exceptions: the repetition of "womb manipulation" toward the end gets pretty funny. but a lot of the other stuff really felt formuliac. from the second the chimp was introduced in act i, i knew that it would go on a rampage before the novel was over. i plowed through the 476 pages because i liked the characters, even if the book was a little mean to them. this could have been the premise of a really good 240 page novel, or an even better 120 page novel. the idea here is, what if someone re-wrote "the magic mountain" but played just for laughs. but glad to have painted a TC boyle novel on my fuselage just for breadth of perspective.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Aurora

    This is one of those hard to rate books. It's funny and the subject and time period are surprising and compelling to me. But after a certain point, the story just stops moving forward. To stereotype wildly, this seems to happen to me often with modern fiction- I like the characters and the story, but somewhere in the middle things just start to amble, and the thing ends up being 400 pages for no good reason. Historical fiction is so weird, anyway. Somewhere in the middle of this, I thought "why This is one of those hard to rate books. It's funny and the subject and time period are surprising and compelling to me. But after a certain point, the story just stops moving forward. To stereotype wildly, this seems to happen to me often with modern fiction- I like the characters and the story, but somewhere in the middle things just start to amble, and the thing ends up being 400 pages for no good reason. Historical fiction is so weird, anyway. Somewhere in the middle of this, I thought "why am I not just reading a nonfiction book about the Kellogg sanitarium?"If I have to read a whole book about enema machines, I think maybe I'd rather know fact from fiction. So I can confidently tell everyone gross historical facts!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Joseph D'Lacey

    My judgement is utterly coloured by that fact that I saw the film adaptation first and adored it. There was never any chance that the novel could live up to the memories I already had in my mind's eye when reading it. So, for me at least, this is one of those very rare occasions upon which the film gets five stars, the book only four. T. C. Boyle is an accomplished and skilful novelist, whose ability to make the past seem real and immediate is extraordinary. However, in terms of pace, Alan Parker My judgement is utterly coloured by that fact that I saw the film adaptation first and adored it. There was never any chance that the novel could live up to the memories I already had in my mind's eye when reading it. So, for me at least, this is one of those very rare occasions upon which the film gets five stars, the book only four. T. C. Boyle is an accomplished and skilful novelist, whose ability to make the past seem real and immediate is extraordinary. However, in terms of pace, Alan Parker's script turns Boyle's leisurely exploration of life at John Harvey Kellogg's Battle Creek Sanatorium into a laugh-a-minute romp. You should see the movie if you have the chance. Of course, this should take nothing away from the success of the novel itself. Boyle's treatment of the subject matter is far more in-depth and his character studies, which appear to follow a good deal of prior research, are brilliant. If you like fiction that's based on historical fact - my faves would be Shogun, Aztec and Lonesome Dove among others - then you ought to lap this book up. In terms of style and use of language, Boyle is a master and the book is a work of art. I love the intertwining threads of story because all of them turn on the anxieties, neuroses and dishonesties that bubble below the surface - most especially in 'polite' society. So, I think you'll have fun with what is a sardonic yet well-observed trip back in time; a story that lays bare the birth of the Health and Wellbeing obsessions society still suffers from - yes, suffers from - today: They are as much an illness as illness itself.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I can see how this would make a nice movie. There are some humorous scenes in it for sure. But the author became extremely redundant. Yes, I get it that the patients at Dr. Kellogg's sanitarium undergo enemas multiple times per day, have starvation-level vegetarian diets prescribed to them, are forbidden to have sex, and engage in many other unorthodoxed treatments. After half the book was over, these facts were being rehashed over and over and over when the author could have just resolved the b I can see how this would make a nice movie. There are some humorous scenes in it for sure. But the author became extremely redundant. Yes, I get it that the patients at Dr. Kellogg's sanitarium undergo enemas multiple times per day, have starvation-level vegetarian diets prescribed to them, are forbidden to have sex, and engage in many other unorthodoxed treatments. After half the book was over, these facts were being rehashed over and over and over when the author could have just resolved the book. I rarely ever say this, but: Watch the movie. Skip the book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Johnny

    Remembering the failed movie based on The Road to Wellville (that I didn’t see until it was on television and, even then, it was sliced up for broadcast television (Remember? Before streaming and broadband capabilities? You had to wait until someone put the film on the air.)), I don’t know quite how it failed with the fabulous casting. Bridgett Fonda was the perfect image of the beautiful, wealthy, self-indulgent, and slightly frigid spouse of Matthew Broderick as the frustrated husband trying t Remembering the failed movie based on The Road to Wellville (that I didn’t see until it was on television and, even then, it was sliced up for broadcast television (Remember? Before streaming and broadband capabilities? You had to wait until someone put the film on the air.)), I don’t know quite how it failed with the fabulous casting. Bridgett Fonda was the perfect image of the beautiful, wealthy, self-indulgent, and slightly frigid spouse of Matthew Broderick as the frustrated husband trying to please his implacable wife by submitting to the most humiliating prescriptions for his indigestion. His wife nearly killed him by trying to cure him at home and then, as he visited Dr. John H. Kellogg’s Battle Creek Sanitarium. Dana Carvey at his craziest was perfect as George Kellogg, one of Kellogg’s 42 adopted children who was most disappointing to him and proves something of the antagonist in this story. John Cusack plays a would-be rival who is cleverly duped into underwriting another venture and, of course, the only individual I could imagine more interesting in the role of Dr. Kellogg would have been the late John Houseman. After recently reading the book, I plan to find a DVD or streaming version of the film and view it again. Ah, but the book! T. Coraghessan Boyle is an author heretofore avoided by yours truly. People raved about him and I thought he was just a fad. I found out that his writing is extremely substantial and a lot more satisfying than the vegetarian foods experienced by the residents of the sanitorium. I found myself taken by descriptions of the winter wind (“The wind was still up and the Doctor, momentarily distracted, heard it come and crouch in the trees with the forlorn wail of a demon lover risen from the grave to take its own back again.” (pp. 280-1)), the near-sexual ecstasy of a “colon wash” (“Will felt the hot fluid surprise of it, his insides flooding as if a dam had burst, as if all the tropical rivers of the world were suddenly flowing through him, irrigating him, flushing cleansing, churning away at his deepest nooks and recesses in a tumultuous cathartic rush. It was the most mortifying and exquisite moment of his life.” (pp. 61-62), and the reappearance of the dissipated and disappointing son (“There was a man there, medium height, unshaven, his hair wildly unkempt, his suit like cheesecloth, smudges of dirt on his visible flesh like deep blue bruises.” (p. 317) The Road to Wellville is a fascinating novel. I learned a lot and it spurred me to do additional research. I learned about fascinating paraphernalia regarding alleged health improvement and received a pretty nice picture of 19th century quackery regarding patent medicines and health fads. My biggest frustration with the book was the lack of an afterward where, in most historical fiction I read, the author untangles the fact from the speculation and the carefully concocted fiction. It’s incredibly helpful to the reader, as well as giving extra confidence in the author and an incentive to read more of the author’s work. Right now, I have to say, “Not automatically!” It will depend on the subject matter.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rauf

    1907. Battle Creek, Michigan. The American bourgeois were lining up to get top treatments for their sick, frail bodies at the Sanatorium. Most of them suffered the same ailment: their colons were shot to hell. The man in charge (and who could save them) was Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. Surgeon, inventor, author, cap'n of industry. His methods were simple but very challenging. Stop eating meat, stop drinking, stop smoking. Don't worry. The menu in the San living room would make you want to forget those 1907. Battle Creek, Michigan. The American bourgeois were lining up to get top treatments for their sick, frail bodies at the Sanatorium. Most of them suffered the same ailment: their colons were shot to hell. The man in charge (and who could save them) was Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. Surgeon, inventor, author, cap'n of industry. His methods were simple but very challenging. Stop eating meat, stop drinking, stop smoking. Don't worry. The menu in the San living room would make you want to forget those foul things. Like, who'd want the biggest, juiciest steak money could buy when you could have some prottose patties instead? If that's not what you fancy, there was bean tapioca soup, nuttolene, prune fritters, corn pulp, glutten mush and since the inventor was running the place, cornflakes (the real one, not the bastardized sugary version). Mmmmm. Glutten mush. Yummy, eh? Scotch, bourbon, brandy, these were for degenerates. Wouldn't you rather have a nice cup of kumyss or kaffir tea? Or some milk? How's about a yoghurt? While you're at it, you could say adieu to sex too. Kellogg really, really despised sex. Killed a lot of women, he argued. He didn't even do it with the missus. But Dr. K's main weapon to heal his patients' ravaged colon was a daily dose of enema. Five times a day. Good for what ails ya. Makes those colon squeaky clean. Kellogg swore by that stuff. He got himself one every morning. For those who don't know what's it like to get an enema, it's like this: http://images.google.co.id/imglanding... That is not porn. This is porn: http://images.google.co.id/imglanding... On the streets of Battle Creek, things could get dirty and messy as well. Inspired by C.W. Post and Kellogg's success, people were coming to town to start their own breakfast food/cereal company. Right after you got off the train, they came at you, offering you to buy stocks to a company that would never exist. The real ones, they went bankrupt lickety-split. One of the main stories in the book was Dr. Kellogg's enmity with one of his adopted sons, George. The Doc had about forty other adopted children, not one of them ever gave him a hard time. With George, it was 24/7. Real pain in Kellogg's ass, he was. He hated living with the Doc, eating those yucky health food. He didn't care about personal hygiene. At the age of 19, he lived in a factory ruin downtown and he only came to see his adopted father whenever he needed cash. Then George invested some money in a fledgling breakfast food company called Per-Fo -- it became Kellogg's Per-Fo but Per-Fo was no bowl of Special K. They couldn't even make the product. Boyle never wrote in details why Dr. K failed with George. Both seemed to be polar opposites since day one. When he was a kid, George never put his coat on a peg and to make sure George put it there, Dr. K instructed him clearly and lucidly. D'you know what George did? He literally did nothing except walk from downstairs to his room and hang his coat on a peg. He did it for over week. Maybe George was bad to the bone. A little sociopath. A hopeless case. Or maybe he was the one who needed love the most. To me, yes, Dr. Kellogg cared a lot about his adopted children but I don't think he loved them unconditionally. The man was a cold fish. He liked them when they were obedient, subservient. When they made him look good. A man in his stature certainly didn't like it when his ego was being challenged by some punk, which George did day in and day out. The Road To Wellville was not a furiously funny novel like the back cover described. There were some black humor here, some subtle, some were not; how to turn a wolf into a vegetarian, oysters are pee food, not sea food and freikoper kultur was just a fancy phrase for fingerbang. To me it was a tragedy. About people who tried to have perfect lives. Charlie Ossining wanted to achieve the American Dream. Will and Eleanor Lightbody's marriage had never been the same ever since she lost the baby so she seeked solace in Battle Creek. George was the only one who didn't care about his life but he was adopted by a man who seemed to have a perfect life. Dr. K's idea of living was to live in a bland bubble and focused only to surgery, his patients and the San. They wanted perfect lives. But they looked in places they knew they wouldn't get. Worse even, they were in denial. Do these people even deserve a happy ending? This was my first experience rading a novel by Boyle. He supplied interesting ideas, backed up by fine researches on Kellogg and the San and the breakfast food biz at Battle Creek in the early 1900. He's a sculptor of sentences, although not as high-falutin' as Chabon. No one is. Michael Chabon wrote sentences you can taste (and they taste like tiramisu). My gripe with this book is there were too maany nothing happened between the big events so it felt like the book was too damn long.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Barry

    I struggled mightily with the story of a Kellogg brother who ran a health sanitarium in Battle Creek Michigan. There were more flakes in the story than the cereal and I found none of the characters likable. Maybe I might have enjoyed it more if I had read it near the time of publication when vegan sensibilities were less prominent. The book was a long one, but in the end I felt like Fauna the wolf, given a lot to eat, but no meat.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Straw

    There isn't a TC Boyle book that I don't love. This one seems like a cut from today; rather, than a book about the past. Doctors revered as gods, money buying health, a thousand hucksters out there hustling so we call all live forever....I mean. There isn't a TC Boyle book that I don't love. This one seems like a cut from today; rather, than a book about the past. Doctors revered as gods, money buying health, a thousand hucksters out there hustling so we call all live forever....I mean.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    You expect a certain amount of snarkiness from Boyle, and Wellville doesn't dissapoint, but I found no glee in it, as I did in Drop City, or Budding Prospects, or even Water Music. I kept thinking what a marvelous writer he is, yet how unfortunate his choice of stories and characters are. I get it that Kellog's sanitarium and its regimens were for the turn of the century's health nuts, and that many of its practices were misguided and downright dangerous in some cases. I get that there were huck You expect a certain amount of snarkiness from Boyle, and Wellville doesn't dissapoint, but I found no glee in it, as I did in Drop City, or Budding Prospects, or even Water Music. I kept thinking what a marvelous writer he is, yet how unfortunate his choice of stories and characters are. I get it that Kellog's sanitarium and its regimens were for the turn of the century's health nuts, and that many of its practices were misguided and downright dangerous in some cases. I get that there were hucksters chasing the elusive dream of being the next great cereal maker. The characters Boyle created to exemplify these ideas just didn't engage me, and the changes they went through in the novel wherein they learned their lessons all seemed to come in the end in a hurried clump. There are plenty of other, better books (by Boyle and others) out there to read rather than wasting your time with this one.

  17. 5 out of 5

    David DeValera

    The Road to Wellville is a story of people in search of Organic Grace. Dr. Kellogg's followers believe they suffer from the visceral accumulation of toxic sludge brought on by years of improper diet. Since the rigors of eating were never mastered better than by the great Cleansed Colon himself, Dr. Kellogg, they follow his every command. They scour their colons, blast out their bowels, purge their way to purity--yet, despite the daily intrusions to their lower orifices', they still end up diggin The Road to Wellville is a story of people in search of Organic Grace. Dr. Kellogg's followers believe they suffer from the visceral accumulation of toxic sludge brought on by years of improper diet. Since the rigors of eating were never mastered better than by the great Cleansed Colon himself, Dr. Kellogg, they follow his every command. They scour their colons, blast out their bowels, purge their way to purity--yet, despite the daily intrusions to their lower orifices', they still end up digging their own graves with their teeth. Told with unrelenting satire, The Road to Wellville is the story of an original Health Nut and all his pampered followers. Provides great insights into the Fad that still drains wallets today.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Roth

    (If 4.5 rating were possible) I started reading this book in California upon recommendation from a friend knowing nothing about it and quickly got pulled into the narrative. Then I borrowed it and left it on a plane. I rarely pick up fiction, but from winter to summer the near 500 pages begged me to finish them. The story dragged on a bit (with weird twists) near the end. Overall, the characters and their different perspectives were entertaining and the book is well-written. It's historical fict (If 4.5 rating were possible) I started reading this book in California upon recommendation from a friend knowing nothing about it and quickly got pulled into the narrative. Then I borrowed it and left it on a plane. I rarely pick up fiction, but from winter to summer the near 500 pages begged me to finish them. The story dragged on a bit (with weird twists) near the end. Overall, the characters and their different perspectives were entertaining and the book is well-written. It's historical fiction on Dr.Kellog - the corn flakes guy. The title comes from C.W. Post, the grape nuts guy, who stayed at the health sanitarium back in the day and then was inspired to found his own cereal business as well. (Other famous patients included Amelia Earhart & Sojourner Truth, holla.) This style of book is tricky to sort fact from fiction but I enjoyed doing some googling after I finished. Fascinating to me that Battle Creek Sanitarium was a real place in Michigan where over 1,000 "patients" would stay at a time. Kellog was an M.D. who had progressive holistic methods for the time: vegetarianism, enemas, and tons of strange medical inventions. He also happened to be Seventh-day Adventist and took a strong view on sexual abstinence. Some of the additions at the end of the book make sense now. Corn Flakes were actually invented as part of Kellog's health regime to prevent sexual arousal. Bland foods, no desire. (Inspired by the dude who graham crackers are named after - a Presbyterian minister who touted the same ideas). Basically: quirky characters, failed pursuit of perfect health, breakfast cereal business tycoons in the early 1900's & sexual awakenings. What a mix.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dennis

    It's always hard for me to get behind a T.C. Boyle book 100% because there's something about his writing style that throws me off. However, there's no denying his ability to take some relatively obscure corner of American history and throw light on it. In this case, it was the start of the breakfast cereal industry, the rivalry between Kellogg´s and Post, and the trendy boon in the health-food industry of the early 20th century as well. This is delightfully quirky book about something that's an It's always hard for me to get behind a T.C. Boyle book 100% because there's something about his writing style that throws me off. However, there's no denying his ability to take some relatively obscure corner of American history and throw light on it. In this case, it was the start of the breakfast cereal industry, the rivalry between Kellogg´s and Post, and the trendy boon in the health-food industry of the early 20th century as well. This is delightfully quirky book about something that's an everyday part of life and how it got there, with all its side-stories; it may be fictionalized but certainly worth the pain of reading and enjoying.

  20. 4 out of 5

    David

    Fascinating story.... Boyle has such a magnificent way with words...

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ian Mapp

    You have to admire TC Boyle, this is the forth book (after Drop City, Tortilla Curtain and Inner Circle) of his that i have read and they are all different, with different themes and time frames. This is comedy gold and tells the story of the Kellog family, superbly played by Anthony Hopkins in the film adaptaion. He runs a sanitarioum in 19th Century smallsville america with some bizarre treatments - mostly based around the bowell and the avoidance of meat, coffee and drink. Three seperate strorie You have to admire TC Boyle, this is the forth book (after Drop City, Tortilla Curtain and Inner Circle) of his that i have read and they are all different, with different themes and time frames. This is comedy gold and tells the story of the Kellog family, superbly played by Anthony Hopkins in the film adaptaion. He runs a sanitarioum in 19th Century smallsville america with some bizarre treatments - mostly based around the bowell and the avoidance of meat, coffee and drink. Three seperate strories run independantly and come together throughout the book. Kellogg and his relationship with his wayward Son George - played out differently in the book and film. A newlywed couple (the wonderfully named Lightbodies) who come for treatment. She is repressed sexually until she is treated for her hysteria through "Womb Manipulation" by a germanic doctor. He is a recovering alcoholic - whos previous treatments were hilariously told in the back story as first he was treated with Opium to cure his dependance on alchol and then whiskey to cure hid dependance on opium. Finally, there is Charles Ossinger and the wonderful Bender. Charlie is a would be entrepenuer and bender is a larger than life confidence trickster - both wonderfully drawn. Charlie is keen to setup a breakfast food company, bender is keen to blow the raised capital in the wonderful sounding Red Onion Restaurant. The three stories interlap - Will Lighbody quits the sanatorium after too much seaweed and a milk diet and observing one of kellogs inventions going wrong and electrocuting two patients and goes mad on raw hambruger, whiskey and beer in the Red Onion where he meets Charlie. Charlie meets George and recruits him to their business venture to play on the kelogg name. The story is consistently funny - with a message on societies obsession with help. Its equally as good as the other TC Boyle books I have read and on a completely different subject matter and time frame. I believe he can turn his hand to any subject and produce wonderful books. The film was a cracking adaptation as well.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lynn G.

    This book is probably a 3.5* rather than a three. An interesting, fictional look at the empire that J.H. Kellogg built around "physiologic" living and an amazing number of enemas; yes, enemas. His highly regarded Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, or "San" as it was popularly called, hosted thousands of "patients" over the years. All of them wealthy, many famous, and all apparently suffering from such complaints as autointoxication, neurasthenia, and, worst of all, the eating of meat. Kellogg This book is probably a 3.5* rather than a three. An interesting, fictional look at the empire that J.H. Kellogg built around "physiologic" living and an amazing number of enemas; yes, enemas. His highly regarded Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, or "San" as it was popularly called, hosted thousands of "patients" over the years. All of them wealthy, many famous, and all apparently suffering from such complaints as autointoxication, neurasthenia, and, worst of all, the eating of meat. Kellogg's treatments were unusual and unconventional, to say the least. Yet, he would probably be seen as a guru of alternative medicine and not necessarily off his rocker. But, to be honest, I thought that he was 3 bricks short of a load. The subplot of this book revolves around the untold number of people who beat a path to Battle Creek to try and ride the crest of the wave of the booming health industry that Kellogg and his arch nemesis, C.W. Post, had set into motion. There were some successes as well as a spectacular number of failures. I can't say that I cared for any of the characters but there were a number of colorful ones and, oddly enough, I still enjoyed the book and looked forward to reading it each time I picked it up.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Todd Stockslager

    Regardless of how good this book is, my review of it will be forever tainted by the events surrounding my reading of it: I started reading the book just before first visiting my parents to help with my ailing mother, and finished it the day of her funeral just three weeks later. Her death came more quickly than we expected; the end of this book took came more slowly than I expected. Not that it was a bad book. In fact, it suggests that the real history of Kellog, the Battle Creek sanitorium movem Regardless of how good this book is, my review of it will be forever tainted by the events surrounding my reading of it: I started reading the book just before first visiting my parents to help with my ailing mother, and finished it the day of her funeral just three weeks later. Her death came more quickly than we expected; the end of this book took came more slowly than I expected. Not that it was a bad book. In fact, it suggests that the real history of Kellog, the Battle Creek sanitorium movement, and the breakfast cereral industry it engendered is a fascinating one worthy of study. The fiction story wrapped around it isn't the greatest, seeming to waver between humor, fictionalized history and just plaiin fiction without a driving thread that either gives a good historical account or provides a compelling fictional story. So, it could make a good time-passer on a plane or vacation, but isn't a great deep explication of the events. Or maybe it just the thing for taking your mind off of the big issues of life when watching your mother fade and die.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Marie A.

    You know, I've given T.C. Boyle a couple of tries now. In both cases (the other was Drop City, which I liked slightly better), I found myself vaguely interested and vaguely irritated, in equal measure. In both cases, he gives us a utopian experiment pulled down by the most banal of human flaws (which, I suppose, is the real tragedy: at our worst, we're not so much "evil" or even "bad" as we are distressingly petty and self-involved). In each, he draws his characters with some depth, but you can' You know, I've given T.C. Boyle a couple of tries now. In both cases (the other was Drop City, which I liked slightly better), I found myself vaguely interested and vaguely irritated, in equal measure. In both cases, he gives us a utopian experiment pulled down by the most banal of human flaws (which, I suppose, is the real tragedy: at our worst, we're not so much "evil" or even "bad" as we are distressingly petty and self-involved). In each, he draws his characters with some depth, but you can't really like any of them, or humanity in general. Don't get me wrong: I think he's a good writer; I just can't like his books. On the other hand, this book made me want to learn more about turn-of-the-century health faddism, so for that intriguing central premise and research alone, I bumped my rating up from "It was okay" to "liked it."

  25. 5 out of 5

    Philip

    I enjoyed this book immensely, but was certainly less than objective, because they were filming the movie version across the Hudson River from where I was living at the time, and both my father and myself had been chosen at extras in the film, (look for me as the out of focus bellboy between Anthony Hopkins and Dana Carvey when they first meet in the hotel lobby!). But I think I would have enjoyed it in any case...bizarre tale but very funny, and written with Boyle's expected elegance. (BTW, Anth I enjoyed this book immensely, but was certainly less than objective, because they were filming the movie version across the Hudson River from where I was living at the time, and both my father and myself had been chosen at extras in the film, (look for me as the out of focus bellboy between Anthony Hopkins and Dana Carvey when they first meet in the hotel lobby!). But I think I would have enjoyed it in any case...bizarre tale but very funny, and written with Boyle's expected elegance. (BTW, Anthony Hopkins was just a delightful gentleman; would chat and joke with anyone in the vicinity between takes, whether a fellow movie star or a local schmuck like myself. Matthew Broderick, on the other hand, was a putz.)

  26. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Taylor

    TC Boyle has taken the historical figure John Harvey Kellogg who founded a bizarre health spa and invented cornflakes and has created an intelligent novel set at the spa. Eleanor Lightbody has been to the spa twice before and, like all well-meaning wives, has decided her husband, Will, will benefit from Kellogg's health miracles. Kellogg is written as authoritarian monomaniac with grandiose delusions about his power over his patients' lives. The satirical read is entertaining, intelligent and fun TC Boyle has taken the historical figure John Harvey Kellogg who founded a bizarre health spa and invented cornflakes and has created an intelligent novel set at the spa. Eleanor Lightbody has been to the spa twice before and, like all well-meaning wives, has decided her husband, Will, will benefit from Kellogg's health miracles. Kellogg is written as authoritarian monomaniac with grandiose delusions about his power over his patients' lives. The satirical read is entertaining, intelligent and funny. Boyle's book is the kind you can carry in public and proudly declare yourself as a reader of fiction. It's a book for those who love fun reads for smart people. Enjoy!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tania

    It started great, wonderful premise and colourful writing. But then it just went on and on without actually going anywhere. (Needed a bit of roughage to move things through. Or at least a good edit to cut to the chase.) I persevered but by midway it set me on the road to Snoozeville. Finally gave up and didn't finish. I'd recommend Boyle's terrific Talk Talk instead, or the Inner Circle. I haven't seen the movie, would be interested to see how/if the film snapped it into shape. It started great, wonderful premise and colourful writing. But then it just went on and on without actually going anywhere. (Needed a bit of roughage to move things through. Or at least a good edit to cut to the chase.) I persevered but by midway it set me on the road to Snoozeville. Finally gave up and didn't finish. I'd recommend Boyle's terrific Talk Talk instead, or the Inner Circle. I haven't seen the movie, would be interested to see how/if the film snapped it into shape.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lizzy

    TC Boyle is Brilliant as always. What I found most fascinating about this novel is it examined the beginnings of the health food movement... a crazy doctor semonizing on a specific diet and way of life and the people who follow him like sheep. It made me think about today's health craze...the things that I believe to be very healthy but in 100 years may be considered misinformed. What also interested me were the things Dr. Kellogg said were healthy, and thinking to today, what aspects of a healt TC Boyle is Brilliant as always. What I found most fascinating about this novel is it examined the beginnings of the health food movement... a crazy doctor semonizing on a specific diet and way of life and the people who follow him like sheep. It made me think about today's health craze...the things that I believe to be very healthy but in 100 years may be considered misinformed. What also interested me were the things Dr. Kellogg said were healthy, and thinking to today, what aspects of a healthy life he was right about, and which aspects were just insane.

  29. 4 out of 5

    David

    I like Boyle's writing, perhaps even more in this one than others, but like some of his other historical based works, it seemed like most of the action was a foregone conclusion from the beginning. It was interesting and rich in detail, but it could have been a fourth the length and only missed out on the amount of detail the reader got to see. The same things would have happened to the characters, the same things that were expected from the beginning. I suppose it was more to sketch out Kellogg I like Boyle's writing, perhaps even more in this one than others, but like some of his other historical based works, it seemed like most of the action was a foregone conclusion from the beginning. It was interesting and rich in detail, but it could have been a fourth the length and only missed out on the amount of detail the reader got to see. The same things would have happened to the characters, the same things that were expected from the beginning. I suppose it was more to sketch out Kellogg though, and that part was interesting.

  30. 4 out of 5

    rachel

    Truly, I didn't think it was possible that a book would ever have too much scatological humor for me to enjoy. But I just couldn't get into my first TC Boyle read. Maybe if I'd been emotionally engaged in either loving or hating the characters getting enemas? But nothing compelled me to read past page 100. And my friends, there are too many books and too little time to spend reading something that doesn't move you in one way or another. Truly, I didn't think it was possible that a book would ever have too much scatological humor for me to enjoy. But I just couldn't get into my first TC Boyle read. Maybe if I'd been emotionally engaged in either loving or hating the characters getting enemas? But nothing compelled me to read past page 100. And my friends, there are too many books and too little time to spend reading something that doesn't move you in one way or another.

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