The Historian started out well, it built some good tension from the very beginning, and I kept turning pages to see when the big event would happen, but...it never did. Nothing actually happened in the whole book. And it's a long book. Really long, and nothing happens ever. I remember being on the last few pages and thinking, 'OK there's going to be some big reveal or exciting moment at the very very end,' but nope, it was just the end. It felt like a waste of time.
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle was similar in that it started well, but about halfway through it veered left and went off the rails. Now, I'm the first to support an author's right to write whatever he or she wants, and to tell the story they want to tell, but if I am going to invest time and money reading something I want it to at least make sense. The actions of the main characters and the not so main characters were so contrived and unrealistic that I just couldn't invest in them. When the phrase, "as if" is the thought that goes through your mind over and over while reading a book, it's a bad sign.
I still don't understand why both those books were so highly praised. A case of the Emperor's new clothes maybe. I'll probably never know, but if you haven't read them and were thinking about it, I would give them both a pass.