Crystal Ships

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
370 Pages
Reviewed on 02/02/2014
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Richard Sharp writes literary/historical fiction of ordinary Americans in 19th and near-contemporary 20th century settings. He confesses to being a member of the "Silent Generation" (b. circa 1926-1945), a major subject of his near-contemporary novels, The "Duke Don't Dance" (Kirkus Best of 2012 Indie Books List,Independent Publisher [IPPY] 2013 Gold Medal, Best Adult Fiction Ebook) and his latest, "Crystal Ships" (released 22 Nov. 2013). Born in the early 1940s into a farming family who had migrated to rural Colorado from Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl, he traveled east as a young adult to receive degrees from Harvard and Princeton Universities. His writing is enriched from career experiences across America and in some four dozen countries, spanning the Vietnam War era, the subject of Crystal Ships, through the present.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Katelyn Hensel for Readers' Favorite

Crystal Ships by Richard Sharp is a new GREAT in the way of the epic American novel. Reading mainly as historical fiction with layers of drama, critique, and a general human focus, this book is deeply emotional while maintaining a kind of grace and fluidity that is rare. There was so much going on in this book that I could barely keep track of all the action. What a wild ride! There was so much depth, so many characters, and just a general sense of packing so much information into a little over 350 pages that I was amazed. I felt like I learned something just from the sheer amount of information that Sharp managed to include.

Richard Sharp paints a wonderfully detailed picture with his writing style. Full of a bittersweet combination of idealism and a cultured cynicism, this book is one that will be enjoyable for everyone, from the literary critic to the casual Sunday reader. The character development was what really got me, because with about seven main characters, it's hard to make them all realistic and not cutouts. Sharp did a wonderful job crafting individual personalities and really great dialogue! At times, keeping track of the several friends throughout time and space was a bit difficult, but the writing was excellent so I never felt like I was pushing myself to read and understand. Crystal Ships is one of those books that stays with you and keeps you thinking about it long after you've turned the last page.

Kayci Webster

Crystal Ships, written by the talented and creative Richard Sharp, is an imaginative and excellent tale that follows seven friends through a time in their lives and American history when idealism was strong all across the country and social revolution was beginning. The story starts back in the days of Kennedy’s presidency, a time when many American were filled with hope for the future. Eventually, though, violence and conflict crept up on the country, and with them came riots, the Vietnam War, drug problems, assassinations, and more. Hopeful America was suddenly thrown into a mix of chaos and disillusionment. This story follows seven very different and unique people through their journey and their attempts to find the American Dream in a time when change was rampant and chaotic.

Crystal Ships is one of the most refreshing books I have read lately. Richard Sharp has a way with words, and in this book he has crafted an extremely creative, touching piece that follows the stories of seven unique individuals with whom many people can relate. Even though the times have changed and these times are past, the struggles encountered and endured by these seven are timeless. With such different and varying personalities, lifestyles, and situations, you can find a little something to relate to in each person. As soon as you begin reading, it is obvious that this tale was crafted by a master storyteller. His exquisite use of imagery and thorough descriptions pull you right into the story through the pages. You feel the characters’ triumphs and disappointments. You live the story yourself in your mind. A+, Mr. Sharp. A+.

Eileen Johnson

For anyone who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s, Crystal Ships by Richard Sharp will take you back to that period when you were becoming politically, socially, and sexually conscious. The book opens in the late 1950s and tells the story of characters whose lives tangle and untangle during the tumultuous decades of Camelot, Vietnam, the women’s movement, the beginning of experimentation with marijuana and psychedelics, and the birth of rock and roll. As the first generation with “almost real-time” access to the news of the day, it was still a time when the angst and dreams of every young adult dictated the day-to-day realities – whether those realities were in the trenches in Vietnam or in the United States. As the stories of Shane, Gil, Lucy, Ira, Camille, Belinda, Ava, Connor, and other characters unfold, it is easy to allow yourself to get pulled into the drama of the story that runs through the novel. And always there is the beat of the '60s and '70s setting the tempo.

Crystal Ships is a wonderful retelling of how it felt to grow up during these two decades. Although the stories of the characters take different paths, Sharp has done a great job capturing the general feeling of this generation. If you are of this generation, the characters will be immediately recognizable as people you grew up with. If you are too young or too old to have been a young adult at this time, Sharp still does an excellent job capturing the essence and making those years accessible to all readers. Crystal Ships is highly recommended as a good story and a reminder of where we have been.

Jack Magnus

Life in America during the 1960s is the subject of Crystal Ships, a historical novel written by Richard Sharp. When the book opens, we meet Shane, a veteran, his brother Connor and friend Gil as they wait to see if they've been accepted to graduate school. Shane and Gil are both interested in public service and hope to be part of the change for good. While the Vietnam War is simmering and a focus of concern, there is a great deal of confidence and positive energy stemming from the leadership of the president, John F. Kennedy. Gil and Shane meet Camilla and Lucy, two young Italian women who are also students and determined to experience a bit of the world before they're married and become homemakers. Crystal Ships follows the lives of these four people, their friends, spouses and families, as they find careers, mourn the deaths of the Kennedys and musicians such as Joplin, Hendrix and Morrison, and endure the ongoing war.

Crystal Ships is a massive undertaking elegantly put together by author Richard Sharp. Sharp eases the reader into the feel and tenor of the '60s from the very first pages. You can see the three students discussing their ideals and differences while downing drafts in the Ivy and relive for a few moments the optimism that was alive for an all-too-brief moment. So much happened during this time in America, and a historical novel trying to put it all together could easily have gotten bogged down, but not Crystal Ships. There's plenty of grieving for loss of ideals, as Gil and Shane find public service is not the altruistic thing they had believed it to be. They are stunned by the loss of heroes when progressive and caring leaders and iconic musicians are struck down in their prime. Sharp's treatment of the Vietnam conflict is also penetrating and unique. I stayed up late last night reading this book and felt a bit bereft as I read the final lines. Gil and Shane, Camilla and Lucy, Ava and Ira - all had become real in my mind, and their lives important, and the Sixties had come alive again for a while. Crystal Ships is a wonderful window on that world that was the Sixties.

Bil Howard

What America believed it would become and was meant to be doesn’t seem to last as disillusionment begins to reign in Crystal Ships by Richard Sharp. As Sharp follows the lives of seven friends, stretching through twenty years of war, false hope and social revolution, the hope of 'Camelot' ushered in by the Kennedy administration begins to unravel. As each of the seven friends finds different ways of coping with their confusion and disillusionment, they experiment with all forms of escape. Whether their dreams are formed by Harvard and Princeton, by poetry or dancing, the things they believed they would have simply don’t materialize as they imagined, and if they do seem unsatisfying. Which direction will each of the seven take? Will they become self-destructive or find a way to adapt and thrive?

Richard Sharp paints a portrait of post-World War II America and the disillusionment that followed on the heels of a time of great prosperity. Exploration and experimentation were the norm for the generation of which Sharp is writing. Conflict and struggle for a new identity and a new kind of independence was in response to what seemed to be idyllic. Sharp expertly portrays these explorations and struggles in a way that reaches into the emotional depths of the characters and places the reader inside their troubled souls. Profound, inspired and thought provoking, Crystal Ships is the portrait of a period in American history that can only be grasped by its deep and emotional brush strokes.