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Undermajordomo Minor

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  13,054 ratings  ·  1,789 reviews
Lucy Minor is the resident odd duck in the hamlet of Bury. He is a compulsive liar, a sickly weakling in a town famous for begetting brutish giants. Then Lucy accepts employment assisting the majordomo of the remote, foreboding Castle Von Aux. While tending to his new post as undermajordomo, he soon discovers the place harbours many dark secrets, not least of which is the ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 5th 2015 by House of Anansi Press (first published September 1st 2015)
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Stefanie He lied constantly, often for no reason. He lied to Marina about Tor, he lied to Mewel about fighting off the thieves on the train, he lied to get the…moreHe lied constantly, often for no reason. He lied to Marina about Tor, he lied to Mewel about fighting off the thieves on the train, he lied to get the cloak for Klara, he lied about fighting off an attacker to Klara . . . it's like he can't help himself.(less)
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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Mar 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ew
I have no idea why I liked Undermajordomo Minor so much -- it's completely off the wall -- but I loved it. I didn't even particularly like deWitt's previous book -- The Sisters Brothers -- but this time I really fell under the spell of this writer's oddball sensibility. One reviewer compared this book to a Wes Anderson movie -- which is an apt comparison. It doesn't fit neatly into any genre. It's like a very dark fairy tale for adults. It's surreal -- although nothing that happens is magical or ...more
Sep 18, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, fiction
Sometimes a train is just a train. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Sometimes a hole is just a hole. Sometimes a book is just meh.


If I were to choose one word for this novel it would be underwhelmed. If I were to choose two words for this novel the second would be cute. Cute works for puppies. It also works for babies. For me, however, cute doesn't work on its own for novels. Well, shit, I guess it isn't on its own. It is also, technically, sitting next to underwhelmed. But, you know what I'm
How remarkable a thing a lie is.

Lucien "Lucy" Minor, a seventeen-year-old champion liar and "unmoored soul in search of nestled safe harbor" leaves home for a position at a remote castle. There, the food will suck, but he will experience "true love, bitterest heartbreak, bright-white terror of the spirit, and an acute homicidal impulse."
The Castle von Aux is a mysterious place, tended by two elderly staffers who serve an unseen master. Left to wonder about the dubious fate of his predecessor
Doug H - On Hiatus
May 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
Majorly underwhelming, minorly annoying and thoroughly disappointing.

In 2013, I read The Sisters Brothers, Patrick deWitt's comic riff on The Western, and I liked it so much that I gave it 5 stars and recommended it to friends and family full throttle. I accepted its hyperdriven violence as dark comedy and I enjoyed its picaresque story, but what I wound up enjoying most of all were its characters. They were believable even in the midst of the sometimes over-the-top story and they gave the nove
Dec 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like the weird

Another reviewer said this book was like a Wes Anderson movie and I think that is spot-on. It's so odd and eccentric, strange, weird. And - I know this might come as surprise - I like weird.

So let's cast the characters. Lucy Minor is Jason Schwartzman.

Lucy is our "hero" who is sent away from his home because his father dies and his mother just feels like it was partly his fault, even though it wasn't. She "sours" towards him. So he goes to become the assistant to a majordomo at the Baron Von Aux
Mar 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Undermajordomo Minor begins where The Sisters Brothers leaves off: with a son saying goodbye to his mother. The title is a joke in The Sisters Brother mold. Lucy Minor gets a job working for the Majordomo of a castle that has fallen into disrepair, which makes him the Undermajorodomo. It's a story filled with strange violence, vivid scenes and elegant language. If The Sister Brothers is like a Coen Brothers movie, then Undermajordomo Minor is akin to a Wes Anderson film. Or, better yet, Franz Ka ...more
Feb 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autographed, canadian
Well, that was quick. Quick because the storyline intrigued. Quick because there are short chapters, mostly dialogue, and a considerable amount of empty pages. Quick because it was hilarious.

Patrick deWitt, whom I hadn't read before but now will, has a gift for dialogue, using it to invent not just characters but his own time and place.

Two men are arguing:

"I saw the sun set thousands of times before you drew your first breath."
"And so?"
"I was entering women when you were still soiling your shor
Peter Boyle
Jul 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Very Large Hole was very, very large."

I heard Undermajordomo Minor referred to as a 'deconstructed fairytale' and I can't think of a more fitting description. This story has all the components of those legendary fables but it confounds expectations and winks at the genre's clichés in a playful and considerably more adult fashion.

The action takes place in an unnamed European country, with a backdrop straight out of the Brothers Grimm. Lucien 'Lucy' Minor, our so-called hero, is yearning for
Aug 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Exhaling sharply, she clapped the book shut and said, "I for one find it an annoyance when a story doesn't do what it's meant to do. Don't you, boy?"
"I'm not sure I understand what you mean, ma'am."
"Do you not appreciate a little entertainment?"
"I do."
"And would you not find yourself resentful at the promise of entertainment unfulfilled?"
"I believe I would, ma'am."
"There we are, then."
"Here we are," Lucy agreed.

I couldn't agree more with the above sentiment. But how ironic it was that the autho
Aug 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful in its weirdness....
Great writer. Out of the box. A surreal darkish fairytale...
Lucien (Lucy) Minor accepts a position at a remote castle of the Baron Von Aux, assisting the majordomo. And a strange story unfolds, where he meets some weird and colorful characters.
Like his previous book The Sister Brothers, only quite different.
Different from lets say the 'mainstream' of books. Fascinating and weird!

Undermajordomo Minor wears a fairytale cloak, but at its wondrous and fantastical hear
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Sep 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015

This is the story of a boy named Lucy who got bored (and more than a little scared by the supernatural apparition of a 'man in burlap') in his small village in the middle of nowhere and who went out into the wild world in search of adventure:

Lucy, having nothing better to do, and nowhere in the world to be, and feeling vulnerable at the thought of the man in burlap's return, embraced his fate and wrote back to Mr. Olderglough, formally accepting the offer, a decision which led to many things, i
Sep 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2016
Very offbeat and entertaining "fairy tale" that plays out like a Wes Anderson movie (think "The Grand Budapest Hotel"). I loved the main character Lucien (Lucy) Minor and the odd, unpredictable dialogue and characters. The problem for me was I kept waiting for a POINT. An explanation of everything going on. Logic. Purpose. Resolution.

Uh uh.

Never happened. It's a journey just for the journey's sake - and a very strange journey it is! Whether or not you enjoy it depends on your tolerance for silli
Sam Quixote
Feb 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a rural mountain area in an unknown part of the world (mainland Europe?) at an unknown point of time (mid-19th century?), a young man called Lucien Minor nearly dies from a terrible illness before his life has even begun. He miraculously survives, resolves to have something happen in his boring life and is subsequently appointed as the assistant to the Majordomo of the Castle Von Aux - an Undermajordomo - where his wish will be granted. Thieves, maidens, warriors, demented aristocrats await - ...more
Matthew Quann
Jul 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: oh-canada
Of all the many joys present in deWitt's new novel Undermajordomo Minor, its greatest trait is that it is relentlessly funny. In the same vein as deWitt's much-acclaimed predecessor, The Sisters Brothers (which remains a personal favourite), Undermajordomo Minor delights in word play, finely crafted dialogue, all while providing a moving literary love story. Rather than forcing comedy, the novel's dialogue is the most reliable source of humour, reflecting hilarity in the characters' nature. The ...more
Aug 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, edelweiss
This is a very strange book, like a tongue in cheek fairytale full of eccentric characters, dark humor, silliness and sudden violence. It's set in an unspecified country where there's an endless war, the occasional orgy and The Very Large Hole. The inhabitants are always very polite, until they're not. The protagonist is Lucien (Lucy) Minor, 17 years old. He is hired by Myron Olderlough, the majordomo of the estate of Baron Von Aux. A hiring that led to "true love, bitterest heartbreak, bright-w ...more
What The Sisters Brothers did for the Western, this does for the Gothic fairytale. It’s not quite as fun or successful as the previous book, but has a nicely campy Dracula or Jane Eyre feel. Lucien “Lucy” Minor survived pneumonia thanks to a folk figure (view spoiler) who transferred the illness to his father. Now of age, this compulsive liar sets out to find adventure and romance as the undermajordomo of a castle in the quaint German countryside. Here he meets pic ...more
LeAnne: GeezerMom
Jun 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
Call me an eye-rolling, disappointed prude, go ahead. I *almost* DNF at 66% but pressed on. Didn't really improve. I adored The Sisters Brothers BIG TIME (truly, big time) and pre-ordered the hardback of this book. It arrived this summer, and just before I could get going with it, a trusted friend told me that it was likely I would be disappointed. He and I have huge agreement on book selections and impressions, so I sat it out for six months.

Doug was right.

The book is quirky and is set in som
Aug 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What type of book IS Undermajordomo anyway? Is it an old-fashioned adventure tale? A dark fairy tale (think: Brothers Grimm)? A serio-comedy narrative in the vein of his earlier work, Sisters Brothers?

It’s hard to define, exactly, but I will say this: for a reader like me, who leans towards strong character-driven or theme-based novels, I was a bit out of my comfort zone and that was just fine. The strong writing and the plot kept me eagerly turning pages and I surrendered to DeWitt’s talent.

Sep 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Patrick De Witt is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. UNDER is such a fun, dark, and deep fairy tale that isn't a fairy tale. Impeccible voice and timing and a sense of how story can take us into a different world. Beautiful and brutal and hopeful. Loved it.
Oct 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
Underwhelming. All quirk, no substance.

The Sisters Brothers gave me hope in DeWitt as an intelligent, creative, daring new writer, but this book has obliterated any faith I had in his authorial capabilities. The premise had promise, but the whole "dark, surreal adult-fairy tale" proved to be a gimmick as DeWitt failed to deliver any substantial morals or lessons, which is typically the point of fairy tales and black comedy, or really any creative artifice that's worth anyone's time.

This brings
Odd, and oddly charming.

This is the second book I have read by Patrick deWitt, and with both I have been so thoroughly entertained by the uniqueness of both his writing style and stories. You never quite know where his characters are going or the places they'll visit along the way, or what the events in the middle really mean to the story except to create the weird, dark, disturbing, and somewhat nostalgic-feeling atmosphere. This being said, it does not linger or drag in any place.

I think this
May 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
I tried, I swear. I wanted to like this so much, but it relies heavily on a sense of humour that just doesn't resonate with me and I had to drag myself through it. If you love The Princess Bride or Monty Python, you will love this much more than I did. It's a witty and well written novel, but sadly just wasn't for me.
Jul 14, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
p. 201:

"I for one find it an annoyance when a story doesn't do what it's meant to do. Don't you, boy?"

"I'm not sure I understand what you mean, ma'am."

"Do you not appreciate an entertainment?"

"I do."

"And would you not find yourself resentful at the promise of entertainment unfulfilled?"

"I believe I would, ma'am."

"There we are, then."

"We are here," Lucy agreed.

Yes, here we are.
Mar 08, 2016 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the stout of heart
Shelves: canada
Hugh Walpole and Robert Walser on the happy pills collaborate to write the screenplay to The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Robert Walser must have come off his meds for one or two scenes.
"..Woe betide those who trifle with Eros, eh?"
"I suppose."
"Cupid is well armed, and so must we be, isn't that so?"
"It is so."

Love: not for the faint of heart.
Hindsight is 20/20. I should have re-read a fairy tale or two before tackling Undermajordomo Minor. I think it would have been useful to have the fairy tale structure in my head to compare to this work.

I do love the way deWitt plays with names. His outlaws with the surname Sisters in The Sisters Brothers and now Lucien Minor who takes on the position of Undermajordomo in this novel.

I snorted when the Majordomo, Mr. Olderglough, says, “I find the constant upkeep of the body woefully fatiguing,
Dec 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Well, well, this was one of a kind novel. I'm not sure what it was about, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It was highly absurd, illogical and totally unexpected. Amusing, with a great dead-pan delivery.

I'm not quite sure what era and what country the novel was set in, but it's irrelevant.

Patrick deWitt has an uncanny way of pointing out people's idiosyncrasies, unreasonableness, weirdness and what we all call human nature.

Undermajordomo Minor was highly original, surprising, albeit dark at times.
Mar 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a very odd little book this was. The story follows a weak and pariah-like character, who in escaping from his hometown, sets off a weird chain of events. When Lucien "Lucy" Minor takes a new job at Castle Von Aux, he encounters a cast of characters who are all seemingly eccentric and cryptic. Lucy's encounters with these characters is what drives the story, but there is a continuing question of what exactly is the point of this story. Perhaps it's the madness that romance can drive a person ...more
Nov 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Monty Python fans
Recommended to Amy by: altTOB
I could swear I posted this a week ago! sigh Goodreads.
What should I say about Lucy Minor’s foray into adulthood via employment, “true love, bitterest heartbreak, bright-white terror of the spirit, and an acute homicidal impulse.”? It it fluffy? I don’t think that’s quite accurate. It’s light but it might leave residue…. The humor is spare and excellent. The writing is terse with some keen moments. The characters are aloof but deftly drawn. Lines of dialogue continually tickled me…
She shook her
Laura Frey (Reading in Bed)
Patrick deWitt writes some weird shit. His writing has been described as dark, intense, grim, poetic, bold, and funny. Undermajordomo Minor is all of those things, but also nothing like his previous two novels, Ablutions and The Sisters Brothers. The covers all look the same, and the title plays with opposites in the same way The Sisters Brothers did (brother/sister, major/minor) but if you are expecting The Sisters Brothers set in a castle, or Ablutions with a butler rather than a bartender, ho ...more
Adrian White
Jul 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The author of The Sisters Brothers was never going to produce anything but the unexpected, so he's gone from a re-imagining of the western to a re-working of a gothic fairytale - a kind of gothic farce, if you like. The weirdness is at first quite, well, weird but once you get what's going on it's hilarious. Suffice to say, I doubt you'll read a more singular book than this all year.
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Tournament of Books: This topic has been closed to new comments. Undermajordomo Minor, by Patrick deWitt 16 103 Dec 29, 2015 01:44PM  

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Patrick deWitt was born on Vancouver Island in 1975. He is the author of Help Yourself Help Yourself (2007, Teenage Teardrops), Ablutions (Feb. 09, Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt/Granta), which was named a New York Times Editors' Choice book, and The Sisters Brothers (May 2011, Ecco/House of Anansi). He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and son.

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