Somebody stated in another review that Helprin is a great writer but a poor novelist, and I could not agree more.
Don't get me wrong: I love his language, his style and his overboarding descriptions, but I am highly irritated by the lazy way he created his characters. Example? Here you go:
There are three female protagonists in this book, Beverly, Virginia and Christiana. Each of these women is as beautiful as can be, even Beverly, who is dying from consumption (tuberculosis). Each of them is gifted with a peculiar talent. And each of them meets the man of their dreams and they instantly fall in love with each other.
See? Those women aren't characters, they are stereotypes, and actually they are all the same stereotype!
I don't know if Helprin is not able to create proper characters or if he simply does not care. However, if he had put half the effort in his characters than he has put in the excessive descriptions, I guess I would have enjoyed this book a lot more.