Sunday, September 29, 2013

Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield


Caught up in a moment of boyhood competition, William Bellman recklessly aims his slingshot at a rook resting on a branch, killing the bird instantly. It is a small but cruel act, and is soon forgotten. By the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, William seems to have put the whole incident behind him. It was as if he never killed the thing at all. But rooks don’t forget...

Years later, when a stranger mysteriously enters William’s life, his fortunes begin to turn—and the terrible and unforeseen consequences of his past indiscretion take root. In a desperate bid to save the only precious thing he has left, he enters into a rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner. Together, they found a decidedly macabre business.

And Bellman Black is born.

Hypnotically good is the only way I can think of to describe this book. I loved Setterfield's The Thirteenth Taleand wasn't certain how her latest would stack up. Once again though, the power of Setterfield's prose pulled me in and I had a hard time putting this book down. Her rich descriptions, compelling dialogue and creative storytelling make this book a must-read. From the first days of William's charmed life to its sad last days, this novel is a work of art. It is impossible not to like William, and not to mourn when he is dealt a series of blows that crush his young happy family. It is also impossible not to mourn when his desperate desire to keep some element of his family alive leads him to a bargain and a new life that essentially makes it impossible for him to find happiness. Though I would have liked to see more of William's daughter, that is my only quibble. All in all, a truly wonderful and compelling read!

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