I'll get this out of the way first: the burry man is a real thing and, to my eyes, looks terrifying.
This was a slow-moving mystery, but the atmosphere...moreI'll get this out of the way first: the burry man is a real thing and, to my eyes, looks terrifying.
This was a slow-moving mystery, but the atmosphere was a delectable mix of spooky (pagan traditions, talk of ghosts in gloomy woods), sad (family feuds, the legacy of destroying an entire generation in WWI), and funny (Dandy, who clearly prefers dogs to children, is charged with judging a Bonniest Baby competition, and she--despite her friends very clearly instructing her to simply choose the plumpest baby there--forgets and instead picks a scrawny newborn, much to the dismay of the locals). I missed the meditations on crime-solving that the first book of the series featured, but I appreciated that Dandy was very level-headed about truth-seeking--particularly in comparing it to justice-seeking.(less)
A dark page-turner, but the ending was a letdown. Like the ending to The Mirage, it worked and seemed inevitable enough and I couldn't read fast enoug...moreA dark page-turner, but the ending was a letdown. Like the ending to The Mirage, it worked and seemed inevitable enough and I couldn't read fast enough, but it did nothing for me on an emotional level.(less)
Condescending about disability, and the hero's a jerk to the heroine for most of the book. I really, really, really loved the heroine Tessa's interact...moreCondescending about disability, and the hero's a jerk to the heroine for most of the book. I really, really, really loved the heroine Tessa's interactions with Oscar and Anthea, though, and would have loved this as a coming-of-age and opera-awesomeness tale, had the romance not been dreadful.(less)
"A secret is always accompanied by more or less of fear, and produces more or less of cowardice. But it can no more be avoided than a sore on the flesh or a broken bone. Who would not go about, with all his affairs such as the world might know, if it were possible? But there come gangrenes in the heart, or perhaps in the pocket. Wounds come, undeserved wounds, as those did to you, my darling; but wounds which may not be laid bare to all eyes. Who has a secret because he chooses it?"
This book circles around some of the familiar themes and set-pieces of the Chronicles of Barsetshire, but for the enjoyable length of a short novel. Neither the plot nor the characters are particularly complex, but I enjoyed most of all the happily argumentative, stubbornly moral Dr. Wortle. He nearly combusts from exposure to such hypocrisy and the trial-by-gossip/newspaper, but he does so on his own terms, even calling out his wife for being judgmental in the sake of protecting herself from scrutiny: "Sin! I despise the fear of sin which makes us think that its contact will soil us." He also stunned her into silence by stating, in nearly hair-pulling frustration, that "[i]t is often a question to me whether the religion of the world is not more odious than its want of religion."
For such a short book, there too many passages too tedious for me, and as sympathetic as I was, it was hard for me as a modern reader to care so much about Victorian pearl-clutching. The romance in this book, between Dr. Wortle's upright daughter and a young man he tutors, was pleasing (I really like Trollope's romances, okay), but extremely underdeveloped and mostly untethered to the rest of the plot.(less)