Life is really too short to read this: I stopped at 32%, but I could feel a two-star rating coming.
Helprin's writing is so flowery, so kitchy, so over the top, it's nearly hypnotic. Every half-informative sentence sprouts a completely superfluous one:
Rum, champagne, cakes, and roasts were everywhere. (Well, not everywhere: they weren't in the fireplace, or on top of the harp, or pasted on the ceiling.) The house was warm and bright. Even the cats danced.
This multitude of redundant sentences that do nothing, absolutely nothing, to further the plot, is there only to obscure its Alchemist
-grade quality. Also, I was really irritated by the fact that Helprin constructs a pretty pretty world with a vengeance, without bothering to present any of the rules that govern it, apart from the Inherent Nobility of the Human Spirit.