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The Resurrectionist

2.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,241 Ratings  ·  177 Reviews
What should I have said to her? That this life is so thin, so small, it might be lost in a moment without thought? That the worst prisons that we build are not of stone, but of our own making? That nothing done may ever truly be undone?

Leaving behind his father's tragic failures, Gabriel Swift arrives in London to study with Edwin Poll, greatest of the city's anatomists. I
Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 17th 2007 by Faber & Faber (first published 2006)
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Annerlee In my opinion, everyone's thoughts on a book are valid. Max, I take it that you enjoyed the book so much that you can't imagine anyone else not…moreIn my opinion, everyone's thoughts on a book are valid. Max, I take it that you enjoyed the book so much that you can't imagine anyone else not enjoying it. There seem to be a disproportionate number of 1 and 2 star reviews, which surprised me too, I must admit.

This is obviously a book that polarises opinion!

Personally, I love the atmosphere and the highly crafted, descriptive language - the tenderness with which the author describes the deceased, contrasted with the reality of the scientific, often gory (and smelly) dissections that follow.

I can fully appreciate that readers who were looking for (expecting?) a fast-paced, gothic horror would be highly disappointed...(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,374)
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Verity Finch
Jun 08, 2012 Verity Finch rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is undoubtedley one of the worst books I have ever read. The plot jerks from one thought to another with no real explanation, the "gory" parts made me yawn and absolutley no part of this novel was haunting like the synopsis promised it would be.
Aside from the bad writing, my main problem with it is that just as the book promises to be getting bearable, (over half way through!!) the plot line inexplicabley changes and it is as if Bradley has begun a new novel. Which is just as boring as
May 05, 2015 CS rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
James Bradley is an accomplished author, and his sense of atmosphere and mood are among the best I've read. His use of words is brilliant.

Unfortunately, he uses them in a muddied, Grand Guignol-esque story with a less than three dimensional central character. He also has an annoying habit of jumping forward in the narrative, then using flashback, more told than shown, to fill in the missing details.

The hero, Gabriel, is more acted upon than acts himself. Bradley makes up back story as it suits
Sep 18, 2010 Deborah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Deborah by: Book review
I'm within 40 pages of finishing this book and I have stayed up 2 nights (as I'm wont to do when I get my hands on a book I adore!) reading it after hubby goes to bed.

Finished the book and nothing but kudos to the writer for a great read!

This is a horrific, terrific, psychological and insane story that just captures and keeps coming at you until you're convinced Poe has you sitting by a fireplace in some dank Pennsylvanian farmhouse.

It's different, unusual, beautifully written. Mr. Bradley can
Amanda - Go Book Yourself
Possibly the worst book ever written. I was really looking forward to reading this book but the character development is non existent. The first couple of pages were really interesting and I loved reading about the work of the anatomists but it all goes down hill after that. The second part of the book is just ridiculous. I ws determined to finish it but I was sorry I did.
Mar 22, 2011 Emma rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cate Earnshaw
Unsettlingly beautiful descriptions of the underbelly of Georgian London. Bradley is a wordsmith; this book is dank, fetid and repulsive, strangely beguiling but sadly equally unsatisfying.

Usually the jacket synopsis is covered in the first few chapters, but not with this novel. Here you only reach the 3rd line of the synopsis 1/2 way through the book! So it's not exactly a pacy read. Written in the 1st person, it is sometimes difficult to know who Gabriel is talking to or looking at, but it doe
Apr 13, 2012 Sophie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Agghh - another over-hyped disappointment of a book. Rambled on; took half the book to get any sort of a story going and then lost it again. When will publishers and editors start becoming a little more selective?

The whole style seemed fragmented and inconsistent. Not easy to empathise with the character either or any of them for that matter. Wish I hadn't stuck it out to the end as it wasn't worth my time. How did it get picked as a 'Richard & Judy' pick?

I'd steer well clear of this one as
Nov 24, 2013 Nath rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. Such an enthralling adventure into the grimiest depths of the grave robbing trade, and an excellent view of the ghastly London underworld. Great characters, excellent story and about as ghoulish a novel as I've experienced. Haven't been as chilled by a book since The Silence of the Lambs. Intensely readable but with splashes of literary magic, I feel the need to use such tired cliches as 'unputdownable' and 'page-turner', but without irony or rancour. Read it.
That was a really frustrating read! No real character development, plot sketchy and not really thought through. Read it if you like but I wouldn't recommend it.
Helen Maltby
I did NOT enjoy this. It seemed to leap from one thought to another and made little sense at the time. Call me old-fashioned but I like to know who a character is talking to. I'd rather the author didn't assume that because the character knows who he is talking to, then so does the reader!

On the plus side it isn't so long as it appears as it is full of very short chapters with lots of white space!
Manisha Kerai
Aug 09, 2011 Manisha Kerai rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Awful. Very thin plot and I couldn't care less about the characters. And what the hell was up with the ending. I seriously felt like throwing this book across the room on more than one occasion, it made me so angry and frustrated. How can a book go so wrong? Avoid.
Mar 27, 2016 Annerlee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"In their sacks they ride as in their mother's womb: knee to chest, head pressed down, as if to die is merely to return to the flesh from which we were born, and this is the second conception [-] A knife then, to cut the rope which binds the sack, and, one lifting, the other pulling, we deliver it of its contents, slipping them forth onto the table's surface, naked and cold, as a calf or child stillborn slides from its mother."
Wow- what a tender, sad, beautiful start to a book... I've never expe
Sean Kennedy
Jun 08, 2015 Sean Kennedy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think if this book had ended before the section in Australia, I would have found it a pleasantly diverting tale. But the final coda makes it so much more. It then becomes an almost metaphorical tale of the founding of Australia, and the death it was built upon. We all look for new beginnings, but are haunted by the past and never atone for it.
Jan 26, 2010 F.R. rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I freely admit that I threw this book down in boredom after only eighty pages. Although there seem to be interesting events taking place in the tale, the prose has a dreamy and unhurried quality, which serves only to distance the reader from the plot and left me feeling totally uninvolved.

If Robert Louis Stevenson had written about body snatchers like this, they’d never have captured the public imagination.
Frustratingly slow read. I had high hopes for this as the subject matter appealed to me (yeah, I know, sorry...) but I found the style of the prose clumsy, I didn't really get the main character, and I just lost interest enough to not carry on reading.
Michael Shilling
Aug 20, 2008 Michael Shilling rated it it was ok
The last 50 pages - an extended epilogue - are good, but the rest is predictable, thin, and over-stylized. Period pieces need to play with their conventions a bit - otherwise why bother - but Bradley wants to follow all the rules, so it's a bit prissy.
Jul 01, 2014 Martha rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really regret having forced myself to finish this tedious and depressing novel. I couldn't feel anything for any of the characters. They were so underdeveloped and so much of the plot was similarly shallow. A thoroughly unenjoyable read.
Aug 20, 2009 Andrea rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Awful, awful, awful book. The language of the main character is horribly false and appears to be based upon James Bradley's imaginings of the way people spoke in this era, rather than any actual knowledge. A really poorly developed story.
De Roedere
Jun 08, 2014 De Roedere rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
As a rule, I do all right avoiding any book announcing it's a Best Seller. If I can also avoid books recommended by people whose core business includes recommending books, then I do that too.
It's also good practice to be wary of award winners, depending on the award.
And when a friend passes on a remaindered book, claiming to have loved it, and the spine's not marked, then those are books to get rid of too.
But I love Gothic and I'm a sucker for an interesting cover. And Richard Flanagan (Now,
Feb 16, 2009 Thomas rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I hate to put people down, especially when they have worked hard at something in the hope that their work will be admired, but this is sensationally flawed in a number of ways. The actual writing is patchy. In places very poetic and admirable, but in others just plain bad. The story is pretty poor in many regards, simply because it winds up nowhere particulary interesting.
From the first few chapters I was intrigued to find out what the Resurrectionist's actually did. I wanted to read about the
Janette Fleming
The story of one man's descent into a nightmare of self-loathing in which his humanity and compassion is sucked out of him. The novel has a brilliant sense of time and place with excellent moody atmospheric writing

The slippery, shifting nature of the storyline with its first person narrative and prose style can be difficult to get into initially but you are soon hooked in by the captivating writing. For example consider the opening sentences:

In their sacks they ride as in their mother’s womb: k
Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum
I was really excited to read this book for two reasons: it's written by an Australian and is about the trade in stolen bodies used by anatomists in the 1800s.

I was really impressed that an Australian author could conjure the essence of London in the 1800s and was captivated by his writing early in the book. I'm fascinated by the topic of resurrectionists (grave robbers who steal recently buried bodies and sell them to anatomists who dissect them for science) and I thoroughly enjoyed the first ha
M.G. Mason
Gabriel Swift arrives in London in the early 19th century to become the protege of one of the city's most celebrated anatomists. An innocent in a dark world, Swift soon becomes intoxicated with the anatomist's nemesis, the body snatcher Mister Lucan. When Swift loses his job, he finds himself sucked deeper and deeper into the dark world of the trade of dead bodies. By this time, it wasn't difficult to see it coming.

Undeniably, this book is well written and it is harrowing to watch Swift go from
Alice Suttle
Oct 06, 2012 Alice Suttle rated it it was ok
Being interested in the macabre and morbid the blurb of this book hooked me instantly and left me no choice but to buy it and, hoping to gain a grisly insight into the seedy underworld of illegal corpse thievery and dissection, I set about reading it. The whole idea is a very interesting one but unfortunately that's about where my interest ended.

The story follows a group of Resurrectionists in squallid 19th century London. However, as exciting as that sounds, the story doesn't really lead anywh
Reading this book reminded me of a remark by Tom Servo in MST3K: "It's like they had two helpings of tension that they're trying to stretch out for seven people."

London, 1826, and Gabriel Swift works as apprentice to renowned anatomist Edwin Poll. These are the days of the Resurrection Men, when the expanding medical schools face a shortage of bodies for dissection, giving rise to the expansion of the bodysnatching trade. The godfather of London's resurrectionists is the dark figure Lucan, who h
Mar 26, 2013 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book started promisingly. The language is superb, and I enjoyed the momentuous, snapshot-like style in which the relationship between characters and the events were described.
However, the book remains very much in the moment. The main character does not reflect upon his behaviour or the possible routes he could take. He acts as if choice did not really exist. In so doing, he spirals further and further downwards, without providing good explanations for why he so readily gives up his good po
Jul 26, 2008 Teresa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Just an okay read for me. There were some moments of brilliance with excellent, atmospheric writing but the characters were really under-developed, to such an extent that I couldn't care less about them. Some reviewers elsewhere have put this on a par with Dickens, not sure why??? It seemed such a promising story with great potential for characterisation but it really needed some fleshing out, quite apt considering the subject matter! And I won't even begin to discuss the weird bit patched on at ...more
Jul 29, 2015 JK rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't enjoy this in the slightest. I found it to be a complete chore, which I hate in a book.

There isn't much plot to speak of, barely anything there to hold the reader's attention, and to make matters worse the plot jumped from present day into flashbacks and flashforwards almost constantly, leaving me slightly bewildered, confused and disinterested. The writing takes us nowhere in particular, being almost dream-like, and the ending is unsatisfactory to say the least.

I did like the imagery i
Valerie Penny
James Bradley hales from Adelaide, Australia. He is the author of three novels. This one, The Resurrectionist explores the murky world of underground anatomists in Victorian England. He has also written a book of poetry, Paper Nautilus, and edited The Penguin Book of the Ocean and Blur, a collection of stories by young Australian writers. Bradley also writes and reviews for a wide range of Australian and international newspapers and magazines.

James Bradley's books have achieved great acclaim. He
Aug 17, 2015 Neave rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

James is the author of four novels: the critically acclaimed climate change narrative, Clade (Hamish Hamilton 2015), The Resurrectionist (Picador 2006), which explores the murky world of underground anatomists in Victorian England and was featured as one of Richard and Jud
More about James Bradley...

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