Friday, November 1, 2013

Bellman & Black: New Release

Bellman & Black, by Diane Setterfield
Release Date: November 5th, 2013
Book Description:

"Bellman & Black is a heart-thumpingly perfect ghost story, beautifully and irresistibly written, its ratcheting tension exquisitely calibrated line by line. Its hero is William Bellman, who, as a boy of 11, killed a shiny black rook with a catapult, and who grew up to be someone, his neighbours think, he who "could go to the good or the bad." And indeed, although William Bellman's life at first seems blessed—he has a happy marriage to a beautiful woman, becomes father to a brood of bright, strong children, and thrives in business—one by one, people around him die. And at each funeral, he is startled to see a strange man in black, smiling at him. At first, the dead are distant relatives, but eventually his own children die, and then his wife, leaving behind only one child, his favourite, Dora. Unhinged by grief, William gets drunk and stumbles to his wife's fresh grave—and who should be there waiting, but the smiling stranger in black. The stranger has a proposition for William—a mysterious business called 'Bellman & Black'"  Source

Angie's Review:

This is not a ghost story in the traditional sense. This is the story of the life of a remarkable man. This is the story of how this man, as a child, killed something that he did not understand. With the death of a rook, a piece of Bellman is left behind.  As he grows, he blossoms into a man of astonishing intellect and problem-solving skills. This makes him incredibly successful in his endeavors at his Uncle's mill, and eventually Bellman is made a partner. When the uncle dies, the mill is left to Bellman and he makes it more prosperous than anyone could have imagined. Bellman marries, he has a daughter, and then two sons, and finally another baby daughter, and then tragedies comes to him. With each death, a man in black appears to him- never speaking at first, but when he does, he makes Bellman an offer. Bellman accepts, believing that the deal is for the life of his last surviving child. And by the next morning, she seems to be recovering. The deal has been struck, but what was the price? Bellman cannot seem to recall what he agreed to. But he knows that he must enter into a new enterprise- Bellman & Black.

This is the story of a man, haunted. Not by spirits, but by his choice.

The writing is so vivid. The settings are richly detailed and the portrait of William Bellman is carefully examined in such a way that you feel that you know him intimately, and although you admire him in many ways, you also feel anger and pity towards him.
  The pace of this novel is so lovely. Like the stone, released from the catapult, it climbs steadily toward the moment of apex, and then having chosen its path of descent, glides downward, still enchanting us with the perfection of its flight, until that moment when you realize the inevitable impact, and as the end comes, you gasp, startled at the realization of what has transpired.

Can you tell I am enchanted? There are so many aspects of this novel that I would love to discuss- symbols and the meanings of certain scenes of the book. But to do so here might ruin your experience of it. So read it and listen carefully to what the author is saying. There are layers of meaning and there are clues to the story all along, but you may miss some initially. I flipped back to certain scenes so that I could re-read them after, and appreciate the little details that I had overlooked before. It is that sort of book. After you read it, you will need time to digest the work and go back and see what was missed. For this reason, it would be a perfect selection for book clubs. It lends itself well to thought-provoking discussions.

So, I highly recommend this. Even though it wasn't quite the ghost story that I expected, I can tell that this novel is going to haunt me for quite some time.

You can pre-order or read an excerpt at Simon & Schuster or Amazon.

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