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Bellman & Black Paperback – 25 Sep 2014

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (25 Sep 2014)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1409128067
  • ISBN-13: 978-1409128069
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Fabulous (THE TIMES)

Having read and loved Diane Setterfield's first novel, THE THIRTEENTH TALE, I had high expectations for BELLMAN & BLACK- expectations that Diane Setterfield more than exceeded! BELLMAN & BLACK is the sort of story that you can't put down once you start and yet you don't want it to end either... BELLMAN & BLACK is nothing short of mesmerizing! (FRESH FICTION)

This is a ghost story and while it is dark, atmospheric and full of death, what I loved was its life and colour. Setterfield is brilliant at character and setting and can make even a woollen mill fascinating and utterly riveting. A rags -to-riches tale with a spooky twist (DAILY MAIL)

BELLMAN & BLACK: A Ghost Story is the second book by Diane Setterfield, and what a talented writer she is. This is an extraordinary book that defies genre. Part of the beauty of it derives from the fact you're unsure whether it is a ghost story or not... The research is meticulous and yet the many facts are blended so easily into the narrative that the reader hardly notices just how much authentic information Setterfield manages to impart, a talent she shares with Hilary Mantel (IRISH INDEPENDENT)

A book that lingers after the last page is turned (EDINBURGH EVENING NEWS)

Deftly written with gorgeous language and phrasing, Diane Setterfield's newest novel, Bellman & Black, is sure to resonate with readers... Setterfield is a powerful storyteller who leads readers with a light hand to thoughts and feelings... Bellman & Black is not to be missed. (THE HIDING SPOT)

She's [Setterfield] come through with a corker, a second book arguably better than her first... If you loved her first book you should consider pre-ordering - or putting on hold at the library - Bellman & Black. Did this book take so long because she was going over it with a fine-toothed comb? Certainly seems like it. And it was worth the wait.

You will love it. YOU WILL. Easily one of the best books I've read this year.


Book Description

A haunting Victorian ghost story of love, loss and the mystery of death from the bestselling author of THE THIRTEENTH TALE.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Luanne Ollivier TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 18 Dec 2013
Format: Hardcover
Diane Setterfield's award winning, debut novel - The Thirteenth Tale, was a lovely, atmospheric 'ghost' story. Her second novel is Bellman and Black.

Set in the past in England, Bellman and Black opens with young William Bellman launching the perfect slingshot volley - unexpectedly hitting it's target - a young rook. (a member of the crow family) That seemingly innocuous event forever marks young William's life. It isn't even an event he remembers. But he is afraid of birds.....

Initially seen as a bit of a ne'er do well, young William finds his place in the world, successfully moving into a family business, marrying and having a family. But misfortune enters William's life as friends and family members die. And at each funeral William sees a mysterious man in black. A man with whom he eventually partners with in a new venture - a funeral emporium. Bellman and Black.

I was very much looking forward the this second novel. But, I found myself somewhat disappointed. The story is slow to evolve, with much detail included in building both time and place. I did find the historical details included interesting, but I wanted more. I wanted something to happen. The man in black is mysterious, but there isn't enough of a build-up to the final reveal for me to be even remotely chilled.

The role of rooks in history, myth and lore is discussed at the beginning of many chapters. Paying attention to that precluded any surprises that came with the final chapters.

British cover versions of this book have added the sub-title of "A Ghost Story". This was not included on the North American cover. And wisely. While it's eerie, it doesn't cross into ghost territory in my opinion. Instead I found myself thinking of Poe's The Raven and Hitchcock's The Birds.

Good, but not great for this reader. I found I was too easily able to put the book down. However, Setterfield's prose are excellent - I would pick up the next book by this author.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on 15 Oct 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is the lot of William Bellman. A man so driven by ambition and success that he is oblivious to much that goes on around him unless it involves his business projects.

The story begins when he is 10 and out playing with his friends when he catapults a young rook to death in a field. He is extremely surprised as he thought the rook would move before the stone hits, and he is upset at his actions, but with the passage of time all is forgotten and Will moves on with his life. He joins the family Mill business which he takes to like a duck to water and is soon running the company with great success. He marries a women he loves, has several children and is a happy and popular man - until one by one those he loves start dying - except his eldest daughter. At the point where he is at his lowest ebb, he transforms his life by building a Mourning Emporium in fashionable Regent Street after the thought is planted in his mind by the mysterious Mr Black who nicely floats in and out of the story. As you would expect, the Emporium is a great success as there is no other shop like it and Will's stab at a second chance of happiness looks to be positive. Will hardly pauses to reflect on his life and mourn his loved ones but it is not long before his life takes another unexpected turn as he realises there is still a debt to be repaid.

Although there are many characters in the book they are mostly bit part players propping up Will's story - which sits well with me as he is the driving force off which the characters (and reader) feeds. This is not so much a supernatural/ghost story, rather a very effective story of unease with Faustian undertones, interspersed with rook folklore that didn't detract from the plot.

I found it an extraordinarily good read, well written and I will now have to read her previous book, The Thirteenth Tale.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Keen Reader TOP 100 REVIEWER on 3 Dec 2013
Format: Hardcover
In an unspecified year, but around the early 1800s, Will Bellman, ten years and four days old, and his friends Luke, Charles and Fred test Will's catapult on a rook sitting on a branch an unreachable distance away. But Will's stone does hit the rook, and the memory of that moment is hidden away by Will in his fear and youth. But what happens if Will doesn't mourn? Years later, William Bellman is a successful businessman, running Bellman's Mill. How he got there fills the first half of this book, and the second half is what happens when his life seems to find new paths.

This is a wonderful, insightful and thoughtful book of Victorian manners and mannerisms; humanity and human-ness; life and death; love and loss. William Bellman is a man that it may be hard to feel much empathy towards, but that's the point I think of the story. He made his life, and he lived his life the way he thought he was supposed to. And what others made of him doing so was never something that concerned him. But perhaps it should have.

Wonderful; lyrical, beautifully written, a touching and charming story with a haunting aftertaste. Definitely thoroughly recommended, this book kept me gripped from the first to the last page.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Lincs Reader TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 10 Oct 2013
Format: Hardcover
Diane Setterfield's first novel; The Thirteenth Tale is one of my all-time favourite novels. I read it in hardback, when it was newly released in 2006, almost seven years ago and when I'm asked for book recommendations I always urge people to read it. It's a gothic tale, a book about books, a mystery, a ghost story - it's book-shaped perfection.

I went to hear Diane Setterfield talk about her writing, at Waterstone's in Lincoln, I think it was in the winter of 2007. I remember a very softly spoken lady who spoke eloquently, with a passion. She seemed to be more than a little overwhelmed by the success of her novel, a book that had taken many years to write and that had sat hidden away in her desk drawer for a long time before it was published. Although she mentioned that she was finding it quite difficult to produce her second novel, I don't think that any of us thought that it would be another six years before that much anticipated book would arrive.

At last, the second novel is here. Bellman & Black : A Ghost Story will be published by Orion Books on 10 October 2013.

I'll start with the cover design. It's really stunningly beautiful, conjuring up a ghostly, gothic read. The gold lettering along with the shadowy outline of the rook is eye-catching and is sure to stand out amongst the many books displayed on shelves.

And so, to the novel itself. This is probably one of the most difficult reviews that I've ever had to write. I actually finished the book over a week ago and have been thinking about what to write here ever since. As much as I really hate having to say this, I'm afraid that Bellman & Black was a huge disappointment to me. I'm really sad, I wanted to love it so much, but I didn't for many reasons.
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