Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Dark Places” as Want to Read:
Dark Places
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Dark Places (Singer family prequel)

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  289 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction 2001
Published August 1st 1995 by MacMillan General Books (first published 1994)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Dark Places, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Dark Places

The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsTwilight by Stephenie MeyerEclipse by Stephenie MeyerNew Moon by Stephenie MeyerBreaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
Great Books with BLACK covers
259th out of 1,181 books — 666 voters
For Whom The Bell Tolls (Vlad Dracula, #1) by Shane K.P. O'NeillJane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëRebecca by Daphne du MaurierLegacy of Darkness by Jane GodmanDracula by Bram Stoker
Gothic novels
40th out of 81 books — 166 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 588)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
It's rare that I don't finish a book. This one is one of them.
For 300 Pages of "Dark Places" the reader takes a comic journey through the bourgeois grotesque of middle class 20th century Australia. It reminded me of the Southern American grotesques of Eudora Welty, misshapen characters with a comic flair, only transplanted to the land down under. The lead character, Albion Gidley Singer, is the epitome of corrupt patriarchy in a bourgeois society, and seems to be completely indifferent to it, even innocent -- a big, overblown beach ball of a man drifting ( ...more
Alison Newell
I cannot think when I last read such a potent and vivid depiction of character as Kate Grenville's creation Albion Singer. His darkness and brutality, coupled with - indeed, caused by - his crippling sense of personal inadequacy, come something close to Emily Bronte's Heathcliff. In both cases the reader is left feeling deeply conflicted.
As a boy Albion is mollycoddled by his mother and intimidated by this father. She over-feeds him and he sneers and derides him, and he is bullied at school. As
Novels that rely heavily on Freudian and Lacanian references and images have no business being even remotely enjoyable (see: Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers). Likewise a first person narration of a violent, predatory, sadistic and narcissistic protagonist are, at best, an exercise for the reader in empathizing with the darker aspects of humanity (see: Nabokov’s Lolita), and done poorly, rewarding for the reader in the sense of self-satisfaction of never being like the narrator (or even believing that ...more
Albion Singer is one of the most vile men ever depicted. He lives a shallow and indulgent life. He has no pity for others, no interest in doing anything but playing at being a gentleman. His treatment of women is abominable - seeing them as only objects for reproduction or to fulfil his own desires. His violation of his daughter was abhorrent.

Grenville's ability to paint this man and his world shows her talent as a world class author.
I can't give this any more than three stars. It disgusts me. The character disgusts me, but actually...for that, I like the book. I needed to know why someone like Albion would do what he did to Lilian, and that is the only reason I read this book. I hate his decisions. I hate the hollow being that he was written to be, and the way that he found his way to a "whole" existence. But I didn't find him entirely unrelatable. Which is scary, but also wonderful.
Aside from that, I also just appreciate
Dark Places (aka Albion’s Story) is the prequel to Lilian’s Story by Kate Grenville, although it was published after Lilian’s Story. Albion Gidley Singer can be defined as: the son of George Augustus Singer and Angelica Singer; the brother of Kristabel Singer; an acquaintance of James Ogilvie; proprietor of Singer Enterprises and pillar of society; husband of Norah Singer; father of Lilian and John Singer. But who is he really? He cannot grasp his real self; he feels he is an empty, hollow shell ...more
I liked the book, but struggled to have any sympathy with the lead character, apart from when he was a child. I kept thinking that if the book had been written by a man, I would have put it down. Just the inappropriateness of all his feelings and attitudes towards the women — those in his life, on the periphery of his life and in general — I found quite repulsive. It reminded me of a revolting man I once knew who, when asked whether his wife had had a baby girl or a baby boy, replied 'the slotte ...more
I am not even finishing this book. It makes me feel physically I'll even though I've tried hard to get through it. I actually really hate the main character and the way it's written. Albion is a cruel, socially awkward, and abusive man who basically thinks women are receptacles. I just want to punch the guy.
I loved this deliciously disturbing, psychologically astute book. Its central character - Albion Gidley Springer - is all too plausibly shaped by the family and milieu in which he's raised. Lacking a solid sense of himself, he learns by careful observation how to be a man, a friend, a husband, a company boss. But the price of this is a lifetime of anxiety that others will see through his thin mask and glimpse the void that is within him. The other problem for Gidley (or rather for his wife, sist ...more
When I read Lillian's Story and heard that Grenville had written an parallel novel about Lillian's father I knew I had to read it. And I was not disappointed. Vile though the man is.

I can't say I ever felt sympathy for Albion, or even wavered slightly in my dislike for him. In fact at times it was quite distasteful to spend so much time in his company. But Grenville writes so well that I couldn't quite turn away. I had to keep reading to know how low he would stoop, and where his sorry tale woul
Johnnie Gee
Libby Day's mother and two sisters were murdered but she survived and testified that her brother was the killer.

Now Libby is grown and starts to wonder if Ben was the killer after all??

An okay book I like the others better.
I found this a very difficult book to read and at several points early on was prepared to give up. The reason for this is that I found the leading character, Albion Greville Singer to be so completely repulsive. It might well be that he was a product of his Victorian upbringing but the man is a sexual predator who brought grief and misery to those around him, employees and family alike. I plodded to the end in the hope that he would finally get his well deserved comeuppance and I suppose he does ...more
Barbara Devlin
I actually read this years ago: had forgotten much of it (my issue rather than the book's). It has lost none of its shockingness. Grenville has an ability to get into the dark recesses of some disturbing characters and render them appallingly believable.
Excellently written. Certainly not a light read, nor the kind of read for people who must empathise with their protagonists. The narrator (Albion Gidley Singer, book written in first person) is not in the least bit likeable, & be behaves and thinks atrociously. But for all of that, Kate Grenville has done an excellent job of taking you into his story. This was very readable. It will make you squirm.

Niggly issue: it begins as if Albion is writing his story in his old age, with some degree of
I loved and hated this book. It tells the story of Albion Gidley Singer, a man who lacks personality to the extent that he memorises multiple facts so that he can make conversation.

Having been neglected by his own mother, he is a misogynist to such an extent that he believes he has the right to conquer any woman, even his own daughter, and, indeed, he believes that he only becomes whole after he does that.

He is such an awful character that I really disliked him, but Kate Grenville draws him so w
Aug 05, 2009 Polly rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Not sure
Recommended to Polly by: Book Club choice
I had real problems with this book. There were times when it made me feel physically sick. Of course, I sometimes watch TV Land, which might not qualify me as a valid reviewer of such a truly dark book. I saw absolutely no point in writing or reading this book. That is not to suggest that the writing was poor; I thought it was actually tight and well-constructed. However, the Satanic rituals, extremely dysfunctional and cruel characters, and maybe, worst of all, the feelings of hopeless poverty ...more
It's two days since I finished this book and I am still overcome. I almost stopped reading it several times because it was too uncomfortable reading in the first person about someone whose psyche becomes so twisted over his lifetime that he hurts everyone around him. The last half hour reading overwhelmed me. I just finished THe Secret River and I think Kate Grenville is one of the best authors I have ever read. I am looking at everyone around me a little differently since reading this book.
I found the language to be an absolute pleasure to read, as it was written extremely beautifully. As a result this allowed the story to be woven intricately, with a glorious development of character. Albion was a complex character with many layers that were meticulously discovered throughout the book; this book provided a perspective on the conventions of society, gender, sex, emotion and also the revolution of change, traditionalism and the approach of relationships.
Megan Hodges
This was hard to read simply because Albion was such a thoroughly despicable man. I tried to find reasons for his debauched attempts to fill the hollowness within himself in his childhood, and while it certainly doesn't seemed to have helped, he seems to have been born that way. Ms Grenville doesn't go into nature vs nuture at all, I don't think that's the point of this book, but does paint a very convincing portrait of one man.
Michele Harrod
I was fascinated by this book from the outset, trying to decide if the protaganist was a soul-less psychopath, or just a completely disfunctional human created by the societies own rules and restrictions of the time. He was laughable, and repulsive all at once, yet pitable and tragic. A dark peek into the heart of a man who has no real sense of place in this world.
Lauren Albert
I didn't enjoy this book and found myself skimming to get to the end. I understand what Grenville is trying to do in creating the character and I have certainly read other books with morally dark narrators that I felt worthwhile but this didn't work for me.
At only page 49 I already knew this would be one of the best books I’ve ever read. Her characterization of Albion Singer is so deep, so profound, one feels as if one IS Albion; the reader shares his skin, inhabits his mind with him. Wow…
I so loved Grenville's The Idea of Perfection that I look for something of hers every time I hit the library. I wasn't so into this book. Her writing is amazing but there wasn't any character with whom I felt any sympathy.
Makes me feel queasy writing I really enjoyed this book, but I did. Albion Singer is a loathsome human being, a product of his environment. A very interesting, if grotesque, turn of the 20th century Australian tale.
Catherine Lockwood
The book about a man with no soul such a contrast to the lovely smart free spirited Lillian. I think it helps to have read Lillian's story. Kate Grenville is extremely talented the book was definitely dark!!!
What an absolutely AWFUL book! Yuck! Was hopeful that it might resolve itself into something more fascinating but it failed to do so, it was macabrely maudlin the while way through.
"Liked" is perhaps not the right word for my feelings about this novel. It's an astonishingly well written exploration of a monstrous character, disturbing and compelling.
This book is creepy and not in a good way. It never takes off in any direction; instead, it just hovers in that uncomfortable spot that just makes you feel icky.
Matt Crosby
Chilling. Don't read the back cover or the introductory essay first, it gives away too much. Truly one of my best reads. Thoroughly execrable central character.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 19 20 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Dark Palace
  • Power Without Glory
  • Animal People
  • For Love Alone
  • The Eye of the Storm
  • Monkey Grip
  • Leviathan: The Unauthorised Biography of Sydney
  • Stiff (Murray Whelan, #1)
  • Wake in Fright: Filmed as The Outback
  • The Watch Tower
  • The Monkey's Mask
  • The Tax Inspector
  • The Jesus Man
  • Poor Man's Orange
  • Drylands
  • An Iron Rose
  • Carpentaria
  • Remembering Babylon
Kate Grenville is one of Australia's best-known authors. She's published eight books of fiction and four books about the writing process. Her best-known works are the international best-seller The Secret River, The Idea of Perfection, The Lieutenant and Lilian's Story (details about all Kate Grenville's books are elsewhere on this site). Her novels have won many awards both in Australia and the UK ...more
More about Kate Grenville...

Other Books in the Series

Singer family (3 books)
  • Lilian's Story
  • Joan Makes History
The Secret River The Idea of Perfection The Lieutenant Sarah Thornhill Lilian's Story

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »