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The Gods of Gotham (Timothy Wilde Mysteries, #1)
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Archived VBC Selections > The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye - VBC June 2012

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Vicki (vickivanv) | 282 comments Mod
This month's pick, The Gods of Gotham, is author Lyndsay Faye's follow-up to the immensely clever Dust and Shadow, a favorite of many VBC denizens. TGoG also comes with the LRK seal of approval--Laurie suggested it as a possible upcoming pick, with echoes of approval from the lucky few who came by ARCs. Have you read it yet, and if so, what did you think?


John (jtb1951) | 204 comments Mod
I read it back in March and gave it 5 stars. Here is a copy of my review I posted back then:

"Wow! I have been patiently waiting my chance to read Lyndsay Faye's newest work, The Gods Of Gotham, and approached it with a smidge of trepidation, wondering if it could possibly live up to its stellar advance billing. Not to worry, no sophomore jinx here, as Lyndsay has crafted a stunning, balls-to-the-wall portrayal of vintage 1845 New York City with its fledgling copper stars, tossed into a seething mass of abject poverty, bare-knuckled cronyism, debauchery, racial and religious bigotry, rampant immigration, all wrapped in bene flash palaver. This story grabbed me from the get go and refused to let go; a master work, imho! The future sure looks bright for Lyndsay Faye; aren't we lucky!!! "

John.


message 3: by Sabrina (last edited Jun 01, 2012 12:38PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sabrina Flynn | 483 comments Nice review, John! I read this back in March too, and will probably reread it again.

I was so struck by Faye's writing style. From start to finish, the entire book had such a beautiful rhythm to it. The mystery pulled you along, but the best part of this book for me was the characters, because what's a book if you don't care about the people in it?

I'm not a history buff at all, but I enjoy the bits and pieces that I glean from Historical fiction and this time period in New York was very interesting to me, especially the different political parties and the use of the fire brigades to further their agendas by gaining popularity. It certainly shed some light on current politics for me, because today's politicians remind me of a bunch of clowns fighting over their plastic clown car, which I guess when you consider the history, makes a lot more sense now.

I also loved the use of flash talk and the general speech patterns of all the characters in the book.

And just wanted to add that I made the mistake of putting Gods of Gotham next to Pirate King (which is also orange) and every time I looked over at my bookshelf I thought my books were on fire. : (


Steve Doesn't waste much time does it?

I am profoundly grateful they provided a 19th century dictionary of NYC jargon.


message 5: by Pat (last edited Jun 02, 2012 10:55AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pat (PKlein) | 301 comments There was no mystery for me as far as 'who done it' as I pegged that from the get go...but it absolutely made no difference in my enjoyment. That first chapter grabbed you and didn't turn you lose. I would have read this book just for the language...I think someone referred to it as musical...I would have read this book just for the characters...I would have read this book just for the history.

It is at the top of my list of best books ever read...and I am looking forward to reading everything else this talented author produces.


Vicki (vickivanv) | 282 comments Mod
Oooh--I'm about to start the audio version (after I get done with the second Kingkiller Chronicles book--gah, it's giNORmous!). Maybe I should see if there's an online version of the jargon dictionary before I start.

Wow--very high praise from John, Sabrina, and Pat. I'm looking forward to starting!!


Pat (PKlein) | 301 comments "Vicki wrote: Maybe I should see if there's an online version of the jargon dictionary before I start...."

Wiki and dictionary worked just fine.


Vicki (vickivanv) | 282 comments Mod
Sounds good!


Sabrina Flynn | 483 comments PatK wrote: "There was no mystery for me as far as 'who done it' as I pegged that from the get go...but it absolutely made no difference in my enjoyment. That first chapter grabbed you and didn't turn you lose..."

Same here, Pat. I figured out who was doing it pretty early on, but I think that was part of the draw for me, because the reader knows, but the characters don't, so you're left wondering... what's going to happen, what is the killer going to do!

I was a little confused about a part at the ending, but will wait until more have read it to discuss.

I didn't have any issue with the flash talk. I think I looked up one term, but the rest seemed to be pretty easy to get the general meaning of, and the more complicated terms were usually translated from what I remember.


message 10: by Steve (last edited Jun 02, 2012 03:22PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Steve I'm only at chapter 4 and this has "movie!" written all over it.

So far I've had no trouble following the flash talk. Maybe it's my studies of the Civil War era or the fact that jargons are old hat to me (heraldry and computers and go all have extensive jargons).

Based on this book I have no doubt I'll enjoy Dust and Shadow.


Pat (PKlein) | 301 comments I dipped into Dust and Shadow and it is nothing like this...from the bit I read, it's in Arthur Conan Doyle's voice and style.


Sabrina Flynn | 483 comments PatK wrote: "I dipped into Dust and Shadow and it is nothing like this...from the bit I read, it's in Arthur Conan Doyle's voice and style."

And kept me guessing right up until the end. IMO, Lyndsay Faye is a brilliant writer, who is right up there with LRK. They could both write about dirt and make it seem fascinating.


Steve PatK wrote: "I dipped into Dust and Shadow and it is nothing like this...from the bit I read, it's in Arthur Conan Doyle's voice and style."

I expected that. What I meant was that the author knows how to tell a story well. As Sabrina points out a good writer could make dirt interesting. Simon Winchester wrote a whole book on the Atlantic ocean - and I don' t even need to have read it to know it will be fascinating.


Vicki (vickivanv) | 282 comments Mod
Just stopping in to say I'm a little more of a quarter-way into TGoG, and WOW. I'm truly gobstopped so far. This is one of those rare books I'll probably get the ebook after listening to it, because it wants to be taken in through the eyes and savored more thoroughly than a listen will allow. It's a compelling combination of art and entertainment that LRK and some of my other favorite writers create. Pure gourmet genre. *Happy sigh*


Steve Yeah, I'm about 40% done and am enjoying it immensely.

I hope Dust and Shadow is up to the same level.


message 16: by Vicki (last edited Jun 04, 2012 11:39AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Vicki (vickivanv) | 282 comments Mod
D&S is pretty different--wonderful, but different, in a somewhat similar way to that in which LRK's Russell books and stand-alone/cycle books are different. But I'm hoping that TGoG isn't a stand-alone. Tim Wilde and his fellow characters already seem too large and too much a part of a fascinating time and place to be limited to one story. I'll have to see if I still feel the same way at the end of the book, however.


Steve Agreed. Thus far it seems very promising. But then I remember the second book after The Alienist and try not to get my hopes too high.


Pat (PKlein) | 301 comments Steve wrote: "Agreed. Thus far it seems very promising. But then I remember the second book after The Alienist and try not to get my hopes too high."

She knows how to begin, middle and end...no worries.


Pat (PKlein) | 301 comments I don't know about anyone else but I thought the first chapter was iconic. I finished and turned around and reread it again just for the language.


Steve PatK wrote: "Steve wrote: "Agreed. Thus far it seems very promising. But then I remember the second book after The Alienist and try not to get my hopes too high."

She knows how to begin, middle and end...no wo..."


The one nice thing about being a pessimist is that one is seldom disappointed and often pleasantly surprised. :)


message 21: by Vicki (last edited Jun 04, 2012 03:23PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Vicki (vickivanv) | 282 comments Mod
PatK wrote: "I don't know about anyone else but I thought the first chapter was iconic. I finished and turned around and reread it again just for the language."

Yep. A helluva first chapter. I plan to get the kindle edition to take it in via the eyeballs and save a bunch of the quotes. That one about the island itself observing its inhabitants, and not in a charitable way sticks in my brain, along with quite a few others.

I'm over halfway in now and I'm no less gobstopped. Living as I do in Alabama, which not only has a history of racial division but is also in a slap-fight with Arizona to see which can pass the most vicious immigration law, the ethnic aspects of the setting are familiar and immensely sad to me. It leads me to wonder what my Irish ancestors went through during their early days in America. Most of them I know about were in more rural or frontier areas down south, so their experience may have been somewhat different.


Steve Yeah, I had Irish ancestors arrive in America around this period as well.


Vicki (vickivanv) | 282 comments Mod
Blasted through to the end, and WOW. That's one heck of a read. And yes, there is to be a sequel! In an interview, Lyndsay Faye says:

The sequel is coming right along! It is set six months later, in the winter of 1846. And in it, I do more terrible, terrible things to Timothy and Valentine Wilde.


Wheeeee!


Steve Vicki wrote: "Blasted through to the end, and WOW. That's one heck of a read. And yes, there is to be a sequel! In an interview, Lyndsay Faye says:

The sequel is coming right along! It is set six months lat..."


Put me in the "Yes!!" column. :)

Barring Laurie's books, have we ever selected a book before publication?


John (jtb1951) | 204 comments Mod
Steve wrote: "Vicki wrote: "Blasted through to the end, and WOW. That's one heck of a read. And yes, there is to be a sequel! In an interview, Lyndsay Faye says:

The sequel is coming right along! It is set ..."


This would be a slam dunk, imho :-)

John.


Pat (PKlein) | 301 comments Me, oh me, oh me too! I would say yes, a group read! Do we have a publication date yet John?


John (jtb1951) | 204 comments Mod
I think tentatively spring '13. Can hardly wait!


Elizabeth (thegoodwitchofMaryTavy) | 55 comments All the library copies are checked out! I wonder if B&N has it in their fiction section instead of mystery, which is where I checked last time I was there . . . or I could always get in on my Kindle/PC. It does sound good.


Vicki (vickivanv) | 282 comments Mod
Just got a duplicate copy on my kindle so I can take it in through the eyeballs and highlight/share some quotes. I need a calendar for my anxiously awaited books--TGoG sequel will definitely be on it!


Vicki (vickivanv) | 282 comments Mod
Oh, and here is the 5-star review I posted here on GR:


A mystery wrapped in the origin story of the NYPD, The Gods of Gotham introduces Timothy Wilde, a reluctant inaugural member of the force who finds that he has a talent and a passion for detective work during the course of his first powder-keg of a case. Immensely interesting combination of historical noir atmosphere and a tough yet romantic protagonist with a with a sharp eye for everything except, perhaps, those nearest to him.



Linette | 12 comments I read this on recommendation from this group a couple of months ago - loved it! and immediately got my hands on Dust and Shadow and devoured it as well. Looking forward to her next one.


message 32: by Sabrina (last edited Jun 06, 2012 12:33PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sabrina Flynn | 483 comments Nice review, Vicki.

There be spoiler's below...

(view spoiler)


Vicki (vickivanv) | 282 comments Mod
Spoiler-hiding isn't required in a selection-discussion thread, no worries. If someone is in the monthly-selection thread, it's okay to assume he/she has read the book or doesn't mind seeing or skimming past spoilers.

I think he's still in love with Mercy, but no longer blindly, or in a way that he can't get over and find someone else. I'm not sure whether or not Timothy is destined to have a detecting partner in any formal or permanent way, but it's clear he can work quite effectively with his brother and with Mr. Piest. I could see Bird perhaps becoming an Irregular of sorts on occasion, until she's older at least--time will tell. IDK about the romantic possibilities with the landlady--it struck me pretty strongly that he likes her and holds her in high regard, but isn't attracted to her romantically. That could change, though.


Steve I rather like the landlady myself.


Vicki (vickivanv) | 282 comments Mod
She's good people, as they say here in Alabammy. Timothy evidently agrees, but consistently described her as drab and colorless. But maybe he'll eventually see her differently as time passes.


Sabrina Flynn | 483 comments Steve wrote: "I rather like the landlady myself."

Same here and we don't know all that much about her yet. Mercy was too ambiguous.

Aside from the main mystery in the book, I liked that all of the characters had their own little puzzle surrounding them.


Pat (PKlein) | 301 comments Steve wrote: "I rather like the landlady myself."

A nod to Sherlock's long suffering landlady perhaps?


Steve PatK wrote: "Steve wrote: "I rather like the landlady myself."

A nod to Sherlock's long suffering landlady perhaps?"


Possibly. Although I didn't particulary like Mercy before we found out her secret. Too much of the "up on a pedestal" for my taste. I do see her as a rather tragic figure crushed under an overbearing father and a culture which gave women far too few opportunities for independence.


Erin (Tangential1) | 705 comments Mod
I'm about 65 pages into Gods of Gotham and I'm really liking it. This is going to sound a little ornery, but I was kind of thinking that I wasn't much going to like this book since all everyone had to say about it was how gorgeous the prose are, and that's usually not enough to keep my interest. But I feel like there's a really amazing balance of character and plot movement and imagery so far.

The only thing I've been finding kind of odd is just how...unemotional Timothy is as a character. And because he's also the narrator, I feel like we don't see too much emotion from everyone else either. I did get that sense of...desperation/resignation/defeat surrounding the fire at the beginning, but I guess that really strikes me as passive emotion.


KarenB | 134 comments You're right about the seeming lack of emotion from Timothy although as the book progresses his emotions become more evident. By the end of the book, he seems deeply passionate and very controlled rather than unemotional.


Pat (PKlein) | 301 comments Erin wrote: "did get that sense of...desperation/resignation/defeat surrounding the fire at the beginning, but I guess that really strikes me as passive emotion."

I felt that his emotional POV was descriptive of both him and the time. When you live with such cruelty and pain and have it all around you, there is a self-preservational 'shutting down' of sorts. But his integrity, pride, and compassion are always there. I found him a "hero" in the strongest sense of the meaning.


Steve I see Timothy as someone who struggles every day to mask his outrage against the injustices he sees daily. In this way - if perhaps in no other - he resembles Holmes who also has a strong reaction to injustice but keeps his feelings tightly restrained.


Steve Finished it last night. No surprises really but all in all a solid mystery. I give it 4 stars.

I'm looking forward to Dust and Shadow.


MaryL (MaryL1) | 92 comments After having been #15 for a month on the library list, I tried a chapter on my Kindle and liked what I saw, so I went over to the last Indie book store in town and bought it. Will now be heading to the beach for a week of (hopefully) uninterrupted by work (cell phones are a curse) and will FINALLY be able to read this month's selection.

Next month's-the library doesn't even own it, so we'llsee.


Erin (Tangential1) | 705 comments Mod
So I just finished Gods of Gotham and posted a review. The book kind of left me feeling...disappointed in humanity? Or maybe just disliking religion a little more, for how often it's used as an excuse for doing terrible things.

I was kind of pissed at Mercy Underhill for being so blind about Timothy's feelings. How could it be that everyone and their dog knew that he was in love with her (he even gave her that flirtatious answer about wanting to change her name!) and she completely failed to notice...to the point where she didn't get why he'd be upset that she'd had a thing with his brother or that she'd be shacking up with some dude in a brothel! And they were supposed to be great friends, but she never shares with him that she's published a story; even though she's let him read bits of her manuscript. I just find her really frustrating. She's walking contradiction where Timothy is concerned; caught up in charity and helping others, and yet being entirely wrapped up in herself at the same time. Though humanly so, I guess.

But I think the more interesting discussion point is maybe the Irish diaspora and the terrible treatment they got in America. I often skip those little bits of chapter header that authors include, but I found myself reading the ones that Ms. Faye put in just because they were so aggravatingly intolerant. It's so bizarre to me that America was founded on this idea of freedoms, particularly freedom to follow the religion of one's choosing, and yet that freedom was so strenuously begrudged the influx of Irish Catholics. Reading all those clips of comment about Catholic people being somehow less human and thus less deserving of basic rights than people of other religions just made me really angry. Especially since the point of a lot of those comments was to say how unAmerican Catholicism is...going completely against the first amendment.

But I also rather wonder if the hatred of Catholics maybe arose from a frustration at the sheer number of Irish coming through New York. Not that that in any way excuses the behavior, but it just seems so weird for a society that was created because of religious intolerance to becoming religiously intolerant...I want to have some other explanation for the shift in thought, even if it's not a good reason.


Lenore | 395 comments Erin wrote: "It's so bizarre to me that America was founded on this idea of freedoms, particularly freedom to follow the religion of one's choosing, and yet that freedom was so strenuously begrudged the influx of Irish Catholics."

Well, yes and no. The first settlers wanted to be free of the English church, but from the very first they did not extend freedom of worship to those who lived among them. By the time we get to the Virginia Declaration of Rights written by George Mason in 1776, religious liberty is included as a fundamental human right, but that concept did not make it into the Constitution until the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments, including the one guaranteeing freedom of religion) in 1791. Of course, that's still pretty early in American history, but it was an afterthought, not a founding principle.

I do think you have a point about the hatred of Catholics being based in part on economic fear -- the fear that they would take jobs from those already here. A fear about immigrants we hear even today.


Regan | 87 comments I was on the fence about this book. Frankly, it didn't sound all that interesting to me. The description reminded me of that terrible movie "Gangs of New York."

But I decided to give it a go and I'm glad I did! It's premise and history is complex and Faye is a good writer. I've already found myself stopping to admire some of her wordsmithing.

I'm still in the beginning -- they've just woken up the morning after he finds the girl -- and really looking forward to how the characters develop and to see what happens with them.


MaryL (MaryL1) | 92 comments Lenore wrote: "Erin wrote: "It's so bizarre to me that America was founded on this idea of freedoms, particularly freedom to follow the religion of one's choosing, and yet that freedom was so strenuously begrudge..."
Think about the Phobias people have today regarding Muslims. Anything different or other is suspect and to be feared.
In North Carolina Catholics and Jews weren't allowed to even
hold office until we rewrote the State Constitution in the 1830's.


Pat (PKlein) | 301 comments And women weren't allowed to take out a mortgage in the state of Florida until the 60's when the law was changed...growing up Catholic here was an exercise in ostracism...


Steve Religion as with anything else mankind uses can be abused. Horrible things have been done in it's name but so have wonderful things. The anti-slavery movement in both the UK and US was spearheaded by evangelical Christians, not secularists.

Speaking of anti-Catholic bias one should not forget biases can work in both directions. My mom was raised as a strict Irish Catholic and was told not to play with Protestant kids because they were going to Hell.


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Books mentioned in this topic

The Gods of Gotham (other topics)
Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson (other topics)
The Alienist (other topics)