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Pastors and Masters

3.17  ·  Rating Details ·  65 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
"The sight of duty does make one shiver," said Miss Herrick. "The actual doing of it would kill one, I think."

Ever anxious to keep up appearances, self-avowed intellectual and scholar Nicholas Herrick knows that to involve himself in the running of his own school would be a condescension too far. Assembling around himself a cast of fittingly fawning friends and aides, he
Paperback, 100 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by Hesperus Press (first published 1925)
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Nov 22, 2009 Terence rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Already converted ICB fans
Pastors and Masters is better described as a novella than a full blown novel (in my edition it comes in at a scant 96 pages). It’s Ivy Compton-Burnett’s (ICB) second, and the first to use her signature style of minimal description, maximal dialog. As such, she’s still mastering the technique so the novel fails at a couple of levels:

(1) It is hard at times to follow what’s happening even if you’re paying close attention to the text.

(2) ICB introduces too many characters and situations to adequate
Jan 31, 2013 Jennifer rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013
I have to say that I have no idea what this book is about. I barely know what happened, let alone what was discussed. This story is mostly dialogue, if you can call it that...more like verbal sparring, a constant back and forth with nuanced word play with innuendoes and more than a touch of sarcasm. I obviously can't write a review with any meaning wince I found it so difficult to follow. That being said, I didn't even hate it (although the fact that it is the length of a novella didn't hurt). D ...more
Feb 07, 2010 Ali rated it really liked it
I received this little novel from the Librarything early reviewers scheme. I was interested in reading a Compton-Burnett novel, as I recently read a biography about the novelist Elizabeth Taylor, and Compton-Burnett was a good friend of hers, and was referred to in the book a great deal.
In the forward to the novel, Sue Townsend suggests that readers might find it a hard read at times, that Compton-Burnett's style takes some getting used to. The novel is written almost completely in dialogue. I
Apr 14, 2012 Natalie rated it really liked it
Ivy Compton-Burnett's style is very severe and hard-to-follow sometimes (I had to start by writing down the names & relationships of all the characters to keep up with the dialogue-driven style of her writing) but worth it for both the wonderfully evil bon mots embedded therein (and they come quick and fast in her books) and the more poignant meditations on the nature of people and their relationships to each other, to life, and duty.

If you watch Downton Abbey primarily for Maggie Smith's i
Jan 01, 2016 Pascale rated it liked it
Either you like Compton-Burnett, or you don't. This being one of the shortest of her books, it's a good pick if you want to find out what she's like. I get a kick out of her vitriolic sense of humor. This story takes place in a boring school for boys, whose owner, Nicholas Herrick, takes pride in never doing a stroke of work. The school is actually run by his slave labor, Mr and Mrs Merry, Miss Basden and Mr Burgess. Herrick and his sister Emily choose to socialize with Bumpus and Masson, dons w ...more
Jun 21, 2011 Daphne rated it liked it
Shelves: bookclub, 2011
It was hard to follow at times because it is mostly dialogue. She often didn't write what was happening in the scene and made you guess through what people where saying. A couple of times people would have left the "room" and I would only know when they came back and someone commented on them returning. Also, because it was mostly dialogue I had a hard time "getting to know" the characters. Most of them I feel like I don't know at all. But I guess they weren't that important to the story anyway.
Deborah J
Mar 31, 2016 Deborah J rated it it was ok
Hmm. I'm rather bemused. I had high hopes of Dame Ivy, but I just don't think I got what she was trying to do. I was hoping to add her to my list of female authors writing about quite confined social circles, whose books I could pick up knowing I would love them and be made to laugh. I will give her another go, for sure.
Mar 14, 2015 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and terribly clever. The whole book is dialogue which makes it a quick, witty read, but there's not a lot of differentiation between characters. It's enjoyable but not the sort of book I get deeply involved in. Still, I've been curious about this author for a while and would like to read more of her work.
Cooper Renner
Mar 09, 2015 Cooper Renner rated it it was amazing
Superb work, so condensed and "elliptical" that in a few places I'm not actually sure what the characters are saying--but that is like "real life," no? Clever, witty, sharply observed, and very very funny, a la Evelyn Waugh and Randall Jarrell's Pictures from an Institution.
Hypocrite Lecteur
"Edges are the only thing."
Nov 14, 2010 Audrey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I got through most of chapter 5 before I put this one down. I don't like to quit reading a book, but I just can't get into this one. The book is mostly dialog, with scant narrative. There are so many characters it can become difficult at times to keep track of them, or what part they play in the plot. I would like to revisit this book again sometime, but right now I'm finding it difficult to stay interested.
Dec 16, 2015 David rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I. Compton-Burnett's first mature attempt at a novel did not satisfy. It was like trying to capture an image of a fractal manually. The characters were boring: the setting was boring: and from what I read, she never made her point, if there was one. Fortunately, it is a short novel. I may try to read one of her more mature works, but this one was a tough slog.
Bill FromPA
I would probably consider this a two star book: too loosely structured, most story lines just meander on unresolved, good scenes that don't turn into a larger narrative. The extra star is for the future Compton-Burnett this book adumbrates: witty dialogue smoothly covering savage hostility.
Jan 13, 2010 ShinAe rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book, but as another reviewer noted, it was a little hard to follow in spots. I think I may need to re-read it sometime in order to have another exposure to those places that got confusing.

I loved the character of Emily Herrick; I thought she was hilarious.
Feb 07, 2014 Bd rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This book is extraordinary, literally mind blowing. Unfortunately the mind isnt blown until after the book is fully read, and it is a challenging read. I hope to read this book another 20 times before I die.
Dec 29, 2011 Rosemary rated it really liked it
Ivy Compton-Burnett may be an acquired taste ... you have to not mind that the books are 90% dialogue. In this case it's a short but very witty visit to a third-rate boys' school.
Ashley Lindsay
Apr 20, 2012 Ashley Lindsay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Must be the most unique style of writing I've ever encountered. Brilliant subtlety combined with uncommon wit made for a very entertaining, and challenging, read.
Aug 09, 2013 Nancy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I had to give up on it.
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Dame Ivy Compton-Burnett, DBE was an English novelist, published (in the original hardback editions) as I. Compton-Burnett. She was awarded the 1955 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for her novel Mother and Son.
More about Ivy Compton-Burnett...

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