Maria Hill AKA MH Books's Reviews > Bellman & Black

Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield
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Simply put this is a tale of a man's life set in Victorian times. The man, William, has an almost preternatural knack and foresight for business and thrives and leads a good life. Like all lives, there is some sadness and regret, particularly over an incident in his childhood when he killed a rook. Halfway through though (his life and our story) tragedy strikes. This changes everything the nature of his life and the nature his new business. The second half of the story may be about madness, a haunting or something else…

Setterfield tells William’s story in a normal third person narrative but interspersed among the number chapters are small sections simply marked &(ampersand) where we are instructed in the nature and legends of Rooks. Notably, as the ampersand connects Bellman & Black but is not part of them, the ampersands will connect the story without becoming directly part of it.

Overall I really enjoyed this somewhat dark yet beautiful tale. I was already a fan of Setterfield's prose from The Thirteenth Tale and fell quite easily into the reading of this. Her research into Death Practices and Rituals of the Victorian are not only well done but I suspect one of the inspirations for this book. However, it is her insights into life, not death that is lovely as seen in the quote below.

“He had rediscovered the spaces in between words and tasks and thoughts, and they were surprisingly fruitful.”

Overall, this would be recommended for lovers of the slightly darker Victorian fiction. But be warned this is not a melodramatic gothic tale similar to Setterfield's previous novel The Thirteenth tale. It is far more eyrie, simple yet quietly beautiful tale.
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Reading Progress

July 10, 2016 – Shelved
July 10, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
September 17, 2016 – Shelved as: female-authors
November 13, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read-owned
July 5, 2017 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
July 5, 2017 – Shelved as: fantasy
July 5, 2017 – Shelved as: mystery
July 5, 2017 – Shelved as: gothic
July 30, 2017 – Started Reading
July 30, 2017 – Shelved as: 19th-century
July 30, 2017 –
page 17
4.18% "Another prologue read today that sounds promising."
July 30, 2017 – Shelved as: england
July 31, 2017 –
page 54
July 31, 2017 –
page 105
25.8% "So far this is mostly Historical Fiction and I am really enjoying it. I am aware that the plot takes a turn from here (blurb at the back of the book). So we shall see I guess."
August 1, 2017 –
page 152
August 1, 2017 –
page 205
50.37% "So far this is nothing like the blurb on the back cover, not that that is a bad thing. This may be the reason for it relatively low rating?"
August 3, 2017 –
page 205
50.37% "Left this behind at my parents house - arrrgghhh!"
August 4, 2017 –
page 238
58.48% "The rest will have to wait until after #TomeTopple."
August 14, 2017 –
page 282
69.29% ""He had rediscovered the spaces in between words and tasks and thoughts, and they were surprisingly fruitful. ""
August 15, 2017 –
page 302
August 15, 2017 – Finished Reading
August 16, 2017 – Shelved as: fab-narrator
November 21, 2017 – Shelved as: books-i-own-and-have-read

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Travelin (new) - added it

Travelin Nice. Perhaps the book mentions this?

Maria Hill AKA MH Books It is definitely inspired by the Raven. In fact, I was thinking it was like Setterfield took the Poem and wrote the story of the man in it.

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