I'd heard from my sister and my friend Rachel (Birch) that the ending of this book is disappointing. I'm going to have to argue that the whole book was disappointing. I liked the ending just fine, but coming as it did after 600 pages of vague, scholarly letters, I was mostly just glad to be done. I do hope that Elizabeth Kostova writes more, though, because this was a huge undertaking and really an amazing debut novel. It just needed a lot of editing. I'm okay with a story within a story. Even, perhaps, I story within a story within a story. But at one point we were five layers in: the narrator read a letter written by her father about a manuscript he had read that talked about a letter that had been written to a monk who related the following tale . . . oh, my gosh, one of these narrators has got to go!