Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Bellman & Black

Title:  Bellman & Black
Author:  Diane Setterfield
Publication Information:  Simon & Schuster. 2013. 336 pages.

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Favorite Quote:  "The things a man does not think about can incubate in him without benefit of conscious attention."

The short description of this book says that it is the story of William
Bellman and how one action in his childhood has ramifications throughout his life. The subtitle of the book is "A Ghost Story." The book does not live up to that description and ends up in an entirely different place.

As a young man, William kills a rook with a slingshot. The reference to rooks appears throughout the book as a symbol in or commentary on the direction of William's life. As William grows up, his business sense leads to great wealth and great power. His personal life begins on a positive note. He is young, smart, and handsome. Life brings him love and success.

Tragedy falls and brings with it a bargain between William and a man named Black. That bargain leads to a new business and even greater professional success. Yet, what of his personal life? As William's success grows, what is the parallel impact on his person and his personal life?

To me, this entire book just simmers and never truly finds its grip. The anticipation of a big moment exists throughout the book; yet, the moment never comes. The book is called a ghost story, but it is not quite that. The book is based on the ramifications of a cruel childhood action, but the impact seems exaggerated. The book is about a mysterious bargain in a desperate moment, but that does not end up where you expect. The book in some descriptions is classified as horror, but it is not that other than the macabre business that William Bellman ends up in. The book in some descriptions is classified as historical fiction, but it not that either other than the descriptions that evoke a time and place. In other words, the book could have been a lot of things, but it never quite gets there.

The descriptions even the extensive ones about the Bellman business are enjoyable to read, and the dark somber atmosphere is created well and held through the bulk of the book. Thus, what saves the book is Diane Setterfield's writing.

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