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Courting Shadows
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Courting Shadows

3.11 of 5 stars 3.11  ·  rating details  ·  55 ratings  ·  15 reviews
In the winter of 1881 John Stannard, a young architect, is in self-imposed exile in a remote English village carrying out repairs to the parish church. Arrogant and insensitive to the needs of others, he soon begins to inflict serious damage on the thirteenth century building itself and on those with whom he comes into contact, but this is nothing to the problems that aris ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published March 17th 2003 by Overlook Press (first published July 18th 2002)
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A truly unlikeable narrator. John Stannard, a very haughty architect, attempts to renovate an old English church in the countryside in the 1880's. Having no sympathy for anything or anybody, he proceeds to wreak havoc and destruction in the church and to the people in the town, especially a young woman he meets.

There is very little action in this book, especially in the beginning. The pace of this novel is slow and haunting - picture every day being cold and gray and wet. Something bad is always
Jul 22, 2008 Lori rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anglophiles, Goths, Victorians, Suspense fans
I found this little gem waiting for me at random on the New Book Shelf at the library. I am a sucker for the setting...a backwater English village in 1881. The not-so-likeable protagonist is an arrogant city-trained architect full of himself and of the social conventions of Victorian England. He feels himself to be a cut above the inhabitants of the town in which he is temporarily working on a church restoration project.

The architect, Stannard, shows contempt for his laborers, his landlady and
Eva Mitnick
Stannard is a young architect assigned to restore an old church in a tiny and distand village in 1881. This being Victorian England, Stannard isn't hugely keen on actually maintaining the historical integrity of the building - he destroys dozens of ancient pews and defaces an amazing medieval "doom painting" that is discovered under plaster.

All that is by-the-by, however - what is fascinating are his interactions with several vivid inhabitants of the village, from the principled and emotional c
David Maine
One of the best I've read in years. Poster has a way of creating a feeling of dread, I don't know how he does it but he's brilliant.

The story takes place maybe 150 years ago in a small English village. A church is being restored and the fellow sent in charge of the restoration is a complete blowhard who knows nothing and mucks up everything. It's told from his POV, though, so you're in his head the whole time, seeing things that he's missing himself. The language is extraordinarily controlled. T
My reaction to this book is evidence that I don't HAVE to like or identify with the main character of a novel in order to find a book compelling. The narrator of this story is a snobbish, self-centered, insensitive, cruel young architect (who thinks of himself as honorable, sophisticated, & just). He's hired to restore an old English village church. He finds the villagers well beneath him, & is totally insensitive to their resistance to his lack of respect for the church's heritage. The ...more
I can only say I wish there was a negative star rating available. Although the author has obvious ability this book is so amazingly slow throughout the first half and so incredibly morose throughout the second half that it leaves the reader not only miserable and depressed at the end but angry at the wasted time it took to read it.
Kate Robinson
Not only was I mesmerized by this story, I studied fiction under Jem Poster at the University of Aberystwyth in 2009-10. His ability to spin a lyrical tale and his precise, poetic-sounding delivery while reading from his work is astounding.
David Whittlestone
Very readable book set in the 19th century. A love story but not a very successful love.
I read this over the course of a few hours last night, which is not to say it was a fabulous book. Just that I was able to get through it quickly. I think I read so quick, waiting for something, anything to happen. It was such a morality play, with good vs. evil engaged in a Q&A every other chapter. The main character, who is neither hero nor protagonist, is inherently unlikeable, and completely unchanging. The whole novel felt very static, and at times, like I was reading some kind of rewor ...more
Jul 16, 2008 Heather rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Heather by: the library gods
this starts slow...perks up...and then goes back to meandering. i appreciated its evocation of the period and place--there is some nice use of language in there--but in the end, this was a smidge dull.

the only real positive thing i can say about it, relating to language, is the (mild) exploration of our conflicting natures. this is a subject of particular interest to me (saying/thinking one thing, doing another) but even so, it left me wanting.
Not my type of book I guess. It was an ok read however. Imagined several turns that never occured. Had to read the last two chapters over several times to be able to follow them. But still, it was an ok read, and any book read these days is a good thing!
The story of a spoiled, arrogant, unlikable man. The author has created a Victorian story of such little interest and action that I will be attempting to sell it at a tag sale. However, it does have one good point - only 269 pages.
Simon newson
deluded architect gets distracted whilst renovating a village church- readable but I think I've had enough victoriana for now.
Struggled with the unlikable character. Lovel writing
i was pretty puzzled by this book.
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