Hello Lovelies! Please excuse our dust while we do a bit of construction on the blog. We will still be posting exciting reviews, brilliant guest posts, and exciting giveaways but we are in the process of transforming the blog and adding new content and features for you to enjoy.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield

Title: Bellman & Black: A Novel
Author: Diane Setterfield
Publisher: Atria
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 328
How I Read It: ARC received from the publisher – The views expressed in my review are mine alone and I have received no compensation for these opinions.
My Rating: 3.5 Crowns

Synopsis: One moment in time can haunt you forever...

As a boy, William Bellman kills a rook with his slingshot. The act is soon forgotten amidst the riot of boyhood games, but has unforseen and terrible consequences.

By the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, he seems to have put the whole incident behind him. But rooks don’t forget. When a stranger mysteriously enters his life, William’s fortunes begin to turn. Desperate to save the one precious thing he has left, he enters into a bargain. A rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner, to found a decidedly macabre business.

And Bellman & Black is born.

*Synopsis taken from the book jacket

My Review: This is the sort of novel that left me saying “hmm...” at the end, but in a good way. We meet William Bellman on the day of the event – the killing of the rook. And then we follow him through most of the rest of his life.

William is a driven man, smart and interested in improving things at the family mill, which he ultimately takes over after the untimely death of his Uncle Paul. As various tragedies come through his life, William begins to notice a man dressed in all black who attends the funerals of everyone he knows. Desperate to find out who this man is, William starts to go a little mad in some ways, eventually believing he has struck some sort of deal with this man...even though he doesn’t really know what that deal is.

This novel is billed as a ghost story, and I think if you go in expecting that to be the case, you may end up disappointed. It’s closer to historical fiction combined with the question of: what happens to a man who refuses to acknowledge grief? Is the man in black a figment of William’s imagination, a ghost, a real person, or a representation of William’s own mortality? These are questions I had throughout the book, and I’m still not sure what the answers are!

This is the second novel by Diane Setterfield, and after reading comparisons between this and her first novel, I deliberately read this one first. I wanted to give it a fair shake and not compare it to her other work. As a result, while it wasn’t my favorite novel ever, I did enjoy it. It’s one of those stories where not much happens, but you get an interesting look into the textile business in Victorian England, which moves into a story about the mourning industry during the same time frame. As a historical study, it was fascinating in a lot of ways.

More than anything though, this is a story about tragedy. I was moved to tears a few times because of things that happened, and it reminded me of how fragile life was, and still is. This isn’t a novel for everyone, so you’ll probably either really like it or really hate it.

Visit Crystal @ I Totally Paused 


Becca Lostinbooks said...

I like that you said it is more enjoyable as a "historical study". That gives me a clear idea how to feel going into reading it and not expecting a lot of action.

Mystica said...

Read so many reviews about this book and so conflicting! Thank you for a concise review.