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3.38  ·  Rating details ·  1,800 ratings  ·  272 reviews
It is winter 1863, and Richard Shenstone, aged seventeen, has been sent down — "rusticated" — from Cambridge under a cloud of suspicion. Addicted to opium and tormented by sexual desire, he finds temporary refuge in a dilapidated old mansion on the southern English coast inhabited by his newly impoverished mother and his sister, Effie. Soon, graphic and threatening letters ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published November 4th 2013 by W. W. Norton Company
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Average rating 3.38  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,800 ratings  ·  272 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Aug 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
”You foolis old bitch when your husband was a rich cannen you thoht you were better than everiboddy. Everiboddy laffin at you no Your hor darter is getten fucked every day and everiboddy know it. They all know it xcpe you.

dont be proud the erls nevys grinding her. he sticks his dick werever he can men boys women girls cows sheep goat monkies. Even that wite corps Eenid. Damn his eyes. Hes done wrong to me and mine and I wont deny that I arent the man to give him a good thrashing.”

The Harroer.

May 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
ten years after he wrote The Quincunx, a nearly 800-page book with really small type, charles palliser returns with this one - a 217-page book which looks like this on my nook:

 photo DSC00380_zpsae86ccdb.jpg

so on the one hand, it's like COME ON, PALLISER!! FIT MORE WORDS IN THERE!!

and on the other hand, it is a perfectly good book that shows his facility with historical fiction and an unreliable narrator who keeps the secrets from the reader by going off half-cocked in about eighteen different directions as he tries to fi
Diane S ☔
May 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Love Gothic toned novels and this was a new author for me so I did not know what to expect. Loved it, it is not scary but is very suspenseful, a winding puzzle, and many characters that are unlikable. Our main character is a young man who has been sent down from college he, has been rusticated, for reasons he feels it is in his best interests to keep secret. He is a very unreliable narrator, addicted to opium, obsessed with sex, well that covers just about every nineteen yr, old. so not unexpect ...more
Ron Charles
Nov 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Getting suspended from college is a bummer.

Coming home to find your mom and sister have moved into the House of Usher is worse.

But that’s not the only problem facing 17-year-old Richard, the feverish narrator of “Rustication.” Richard’s father has just died, deeply in debt, amid rumors of unspeakable acts. His tubercular mother has a tenuous claim on an inheritance, but until that judgment comes through — any day now, surely — the family huddles around a fading fire in a decaying mansion on a pe
Jul 12, 2013 rated it did not like it
Palliser has written a tale that is interesting as a period piece, set in 1860’s England, but I can’t say much else positive about it. The story is told via a series of journal entries written by a young man named Richard Shenstone between December 12th, 1863 and January 13th, 1864. I found RUSTICATION to be unwholesome, tedious and without any redeeming characters. The author of the journal is a seventeen year old opium smoker who has been rusticated from Cambridge and has sexual fantasies abou ...more
Nov 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
A fantastic read until the last 1/4, where it sputters and spits away to nothing. The ending was extremely disappointing. What attempts to pass for mystery and intrigue seems more hurried than anything else. I was disgruntled with the way the story was wrapped up.

ETA: there is not a single likable character in the book save one, and I might be wrong about her. I wanted to like this, and it had such promise, but in the end it was just mediocre.
Irina Elena
Stunning little thing, this one.
Puzzling, mesmerising, disquieting and incredibly atmospheric all the way through - basically the kind of thing that will not leave you alone until you're done with it, and after that too. Apart from being incredibly gripping, it is also extremely well written - word-wise and plot-wise and character-wise - and the historical period is exquisitely rendered.

I can't wait to read The Quincunx, because from what I understand it's more of the same, and this stuff is del
Aug 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
Loved it, loved it, loved it. I had to write that three times to convey my enthusiasm. Rustication is a delightfully creepy mystery narrated by a complex young man who has been sent home from Cambridge under mysterious circumstances.

Instead of settling in at his family home in Thurchester, Richard finds that his mother and sister have relocated to an embarrassingly shabby house in a depressing hamlet. Former friends shun the family. His mother wastes what little money the family has left in the
reading is my hustle
Jan 31, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Highly stylized, atmospheric, and puzzling read about a young man with secrets of his own.

It was all quite tawdry.
Those repressed Victorians you know.

Also, since you are visiting you might want to check out Karen's review. She liked it more than I did.
Dec 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Do not plan on getting anything else done while you are reading this. That is as it should be.
Jul 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: gothic, first-reads
*I received this book as an ARC through a Goodreads giveaway.*

I wanted to like this book, I really did. First off, Charles Palliser is an excellent writer, that is evident right off from the first few pages. His tone is engaging, a bit formal but elegant. I haven't read any of his other books, but he is clearly talented and I would gladly give any of his other works a try.

But this one...first thing that drove me crazy: the dialogue was only printed in italics, no quotation marks used anywhere! I
Sep 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
One day I shall read ‘The Quincunx’, Charles Palliser’s much lauded, neo Victorian debut novel; but it’s such a very big book that I know that I have to save it until I can give it the attention that I am sure it deserves.

I loved the novel that followed that one. ‘The Unburied’ wasn’t quite so long, and it was the most wonderful pastiche of the Victorian novel; a complex mystery, that came to light and was paid out to a conclusion when, in 1919, records that had lain in the Thurchester Records O
Apr 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
In this sordid Victorian mystery, seventeen year-old Charles returns to his family home after getting kicked out of college, only to find his mother and sister living in a horror movie. Lots of weird noises in the night, meaningful glances and hints at unspeakable deeds, that sort of thing. Richard is a mellow guy, being addicted to opium, and mostly just wants to smoke his pipe and poke every girl in the county with his manhood. Sadly, he is constantly distracted from his simple pleasures by th ...more
Michael Dodsworth
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Charles Palliser

Whenever I read Charles Palliser I think of edifices. His books call to mind that memorable remark made by Ian Rankin in his novel ‘Knots and Crosses’ ... ‘that Edinburgh was all appearances’ ... a city ... ‘of fur coats and no knickers’. Palliser’s edifices are like that; whether they are Architectural, Social or Moral, invariably they are to be found woven together into a rich texture creating a facade behind which the true fabula can flourish. This penetralia of the
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
Well done Victorian novel can be such a treat and Palliser has received so many accolades for his work, this looked worth a try, but it failed to impress. Which is to say that Palliser is certainly talented, but it shows in the writing so much more than in the plotting itself. For a plot there is an epistolary story told by a 17 year old young man who comes home after being thrown out of college to discover a nefarious goings on in his home and surrounding area, secrets his family and the townsf ...more
Oct 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What an exceptional book this was! From the description I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but it seemed intriguing. I loved how the story kept deepening and twisting about just as I thought I had my head around it. I did figure it out but only just before the big reveal, which was perfectly fine by me.

Most surprising was how much I enjoyed hating, and then becoming sympathetic to, the young narrator. He's just awful in just about every way - selfish to say the least - but you never forget tha
Dan Myatt
May 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
A wonderful enigma of a read! It kept me guessing and turning pages up until the very end.

A really captivating read! A tuely gothic tale.
Andy Larter
Dec 23, 2013 rated it liked it
The mystery in the novel is made confusing and interesting by the way the novel is told. Richard Shenstone is a complex and difficult narrator who has been rusticated fron Cambridge University because he was instrumental in the death of a fellow student. He is a smoker of opium, seducer (if that's the right word) of a young servant and so, to begin with, I was drawn to the belief that he was untrustworthy in his telling of the story. The events he describes are unpleasant, sordid and cover the b ...more
Jan 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I'm flummoxed by this. I've been waiting a long time (10 years) for more novels from Charles Palliser. This has so been worth the wait and the anticipation was completely rewarded.
First of all the physicality of this edition - it's an over-sized paperback so feels quite substantial. The pages are a thick, creamy, gorgeous smelling creation. The text format is magnificently worked as a recently discovered journal. I love this kind of novel as I think epistolary/journalistic writings heighten the
Jun 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
One of those potato chip type books--not very good, but crunchy, salty, and hard to stop eating, I mean reading. But despite the intriguing start, it is confused, and (it almost goes without saying) a big ol' letdown at the end. Yet Palliser writes very well and he certainly knows how to conjure up paranoia, and a dark nasty 19th century gothic atmosphere. I wish this book had been a little more meaty. I wish the narrator was more sympathetic and thoughtful. All he does is whine and not understa ...more
Lisa Voss
Nov 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Charles Palliser has pulled off a very difficult feat. He has written a book that both draws on familiar territory (Wilkie Collins' "Woman in White"; Dickens' "The Mystery of Edwin Drood") and creates a completely new reading experience. "Rustication" uses familiar Victorian themes-class consciousness, opium addiction, genteel poverty, to name a few-to lull us into a sense of complacency and then turns the whole plot upside down not once but several times. "Rustication" has been referred to as a ...more
Megan Chance
Dec 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
I've never read Palliser before, but I certainly will now. Rustication is excellent historical fiction. Atmospheric, well-written, and hard to put down. When Richard Shenstone is sent down from school, and shows up at the creepy, empty house that his poverty-stricken mother and sister have retreated to after his father's ignominious death, you know from the start that things are not going to go well. As the reader begins to grasp the forces that are closing in around him, the tension of Richard' ...more
Christina C
Jul 28, 2014 rated it did not like it
This book is a perfect example of why it's ok to not finish a book if you just aren't enjoying it. I knew from page 2 we had a problem, but I gamely kept trudging on. But an overly convoluted plot, not a sympathetic character in the bunch, and the italics for speech (often unanchored to a clear speaker) were the death of this story. Nope nope nope. It's possible the gothic novel is just not for me. ...more
Jan 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: z2014-read
Well, 3 and a half star.
I lost the plot a few times but overall it was a fun read and I loved the setting of the rainy, muddy, derelict squalor of victorian England.
Oct 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, history, gothgoth
I saw in a bad review that someone called this book "unwholesome", which made me like it even more. Also, rustication is a great word. A real page turner, especially towards the end. ...more
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow this book was really addicting!! I had to stay up until 1 o'clock in the morning to finish it. Super compelling, mysterious, and also disturbing. It had several of my favourite things (to read about): opium addiction, murder, the Victorian era, haunted houses, scheming neighbours, secrets, etc.
I loved how Palliser really turned the reader into a detective by telling the story through Richard's journal and having Richard be clearly an unreliable narrator. It made me race to read through the p
Bill Kupersmith
Nov 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Lest readers of Rustication be disappointed, they should know that despite the M. R. Jamesian setting, absolutely nothing supernatural or paranormal occurs & Palliser never strays from 'realistic' fiction - tho' I thought the evil plot here was too complicated ever to work in 'real' life. Personally I was disappointed but not surprised - Palliser already used all the gothic trappings in The Unburied but it turned on a mundane earthly device.

I've not read The Quincunx - too long - but I understan
Nov 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
I find Charles Palliser difficult to review because his work is layered, nuanced, and thoughtful. It's also entertaining, so do I go with a scholarly, analytic approach, or do I discuss what a fun read it was?

For the executives in the room, if you liked The Quincunx, you'll like this one. Same era, same vibe, same sense of looming peril.

If you haven't read Palliser, what you get is a story that immerses you in the world of Victorian England, with all the savagery of class and the crushing realit
Mark Flowers
Sep 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
slj review:

* PALLISER, Charles. Rustication. 336p. Norton. Nov. 2013. Tr $25.95. ISBN 9780393088724.

Adult/High School–Purporting to be a real journal from the 1860s found by the author, Palliser’s brilliant gothic novel sketches the bizarre events in a small town in rural England that leads to a brutal murder. Seventeen-year-old Richard Shenstone, the journal writer, having been “rusticated” (that is, expelled) from Cambridge for mysterious reasons, returns home to find his family circumstances
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2017 Reading Chal...: Rustication - Charles Palliser 1 14 Nov 30, 2015 05:34PM  
Suggestion of the next 5 star book I should read 3 20 Dec 28, 2014 11:04AM  

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Charles Palliser (born 1947) is an American-born, British-based novelist. He is the elder brother of the late author and freelance journalist Marcus Palliser.

Born in New England he is an American citizen but has lived in the United Kingdom since the age of three. He went up to Oxford in 1967 to read English Language and Literature and took a First in June 1970. He was awarded the B. Litt. in 1975

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