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Bone House Paperback – 7 Jun 2001


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review; New edition edition (7 Jun. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747264910
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747264910
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.5 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,437,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Betsy Tobin('s debut novel) mesmerises the reader with its gentle mysticism, carnal themes and dream-like qualities...a fine gothic novel which burrows under the skin' THE TIMES

'Bone House is a wonderuful and moving novel, with an assured grasp of character, story and history. It deals with the sort of people normally ignored by historians and historical novelists alike, and brings to life the poor and the marginal of the past without ever sentimentalising them. It deserves the widest possible readership' Iain Pears, author of AN INSTANCE OF THE FINGERPOST

'This carnal story is a captivating debut' GOOD BOOK GUIDE

'A wonderful and moving novel...it deserves the widest possible readership' Iain Pears, author of AN INSTANCE OF THE FINGERPOST

'Vividly compelling...a brilliant debut' THE LADY

'Wonderful! Betsy Tobin has skillfully portrayed life in a 17th-century English village as well as written a compelling mystery. The maid's voice is deceptively clear, the plot subtly twisty-turny, and the results are poignant and gripping' Tracy Chevalier, author of GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING

Taut and assured...[a] seductive story' PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

'Provocative [and] gripping...a tale shimmering with psychological depth' NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

'Finely put together...a sober fairy-tale' OBSERVER

'Tobin cuts through a tangle of dark and dirty secrets...with pearly clarity....A compelling story of haunted lives' Time Out

'Entertaining and highly original' HARPERS AND QUEEN

'Poetic [and] haunting' BOOKLIST

'Wonderfully real...a surprisingly delicate murder mystery, tempered by great detail and remarkable control' LOS ANGELES TIMES

'Strong on atmosphere and will appeal to devotees of the gothic romance' GUARDIAN

'[An] eloquently written tale of love, lust and sorcery - and the darker places we are often forced to confront...a jolly good read' MSLEXIA

' From the opening pages of BONE HOUSE, I found myself utterly engrossed. How deftly Betsy Tobin transports us the sixteenth century and how lucidly she spins her complex tale of obsession and superstition. This is a beautiful and suspenseful novel'- Margot Livesey, author of THE MISSING WORLD and CRIMINALS

' Betsy Tobin draws us deeply into the seldom illuminated world of the Elizabethan underclasses. Her characters who, in other novels, are generally rendered in broad strokes--the prostitute, the midwife, the lady's maid, the village idiot--are here painted in vivid hue and detail. She has captured not only the language, but the harsh reality experienced by the majority of England's population. A seventeenth century UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS' Robin Maxwell, author of THE SECRET DIARY OF ANNE BOLEYN and THE QUEEN'S BASTARD

`Tobin writes imaginatively of shadowy passions in a forsaken place to spin an...involving story' Times Play

Book Description

'Betsy Tobin mesmerises...a fine gothic novel which burrows under the skin' THE TIMES

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 19 July 2001
Format: Paperback
Really compulsive reading. This is not a 'historical novel' yet it powerfully evokes village life in the seventeenth century - you can even smell it and taste it. The narrative draws us slowly under the skin of the characters and into an original and fascinating plot. I couldn't put this book down and really recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 2 Sept. 2003
Format: Hardcover
Set in rural England sometime around the seventeenth century, this tightly controlled first novel is told by a young woman who works as a maid in the Great House and returns often to visit her mother, who is a mid-wife in the village. When Dora, a huge woman from the village, with apparently equally huge appetites, is found dead, the village is not long in deciding that this may be murder, rather than the accident it appears to be.
Skillfully incorporating a vast amount of period detail when establishing the setting and atmosphere, Tobin also incorporates medical treatments, dreams thought to be inspired by the devil, and graphic accounts of childbirth, burials, and bewitchment. Itinerant elixir-salesmen, domestic workers in the Great House, local pub patrons, and magistrates provide color and supplement the main characters--the cruel master of the Great House and his sadly deformed son, the sickly and deluded mistress of the house, the narrator's stern and private mother, Dora's simple 11-year-old son with the body of a man and a hidden cache of gold, and Dora herself, who arrived in the village suddenly from afar and whose past is mysterious. The narrative is very smooth and conversational in tone, flowing quickly and apparently effortlessly. The story is uncomplicated, with a grand finale of an ending. Lovers of romances will find it especially appealing. Mary Whipple
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on 6 Dec. 2002
Format: Paperback
Ms. Betsy Tobin has delivered a subtle, elegant, and sometimes startling view of 17th Century Elizabethan England. From the portrait by Godfried Schalken (1643-1706) that ornaments the book's jacket, the writer has crafted her tale with authenticity and historical detail that raises the book above just another historically set novel. Ms. Tobin does not give her readers headlines from History to quickly establish for all; the time period she sets her story in. Rather she brings the small details of daily life and language that establishes her as a writer who is meticulous with her research, and who respects her readers. She demonstrates that fiction need not be bereft of educational detail.

It would be interesting to know the story behind the painting on the cover. For any who enjoyed Ms. Tracy Chevalier's, "The Girl With The Pearl Earring", the woman on the cover gazing over her left shoulder with a tear shaped pearl earring will appear remarkably familiar. While not the same girl, or the same artist, the picture is appropriate once the story is engaged.

I want to qualify the use of the word startling. One of the primary characters is a mid-wife, who during the tale, delivers children and relates stories of other births. The birth of a child is many things, that anyone would find the descriptions in this book distasteful is absurd and infantile. To expect that a difficult delivery of a child in the 17th Century would be any more pleasant than today, is also an expression of ignorance. To be fair, if detailed descriptions of surgery bother you, there are passages in the book they may make you wince. There are not in any manner inappropriate, nor are they some slovenly device to shock, or appeal to the prurient.

The only reason for the lack of a fifth star is that I would imagine, that as a writer, this author will write even more engaging books. However, if she stopped at one, she has still made a worthy addition to good literature.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 Oct. 2000
Format: Hardcover
Bone House is an amazing debut. It's so exciting to find a new writer who's novels you can cherish. This story brings to life the sixteenth century in England like few other books I've read. I really felt like I caught a glimmer of what life was like then. And I also was caught up in the thrill of the mystery and the playing out of the sophisticated romance in the book. All in all its a great read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very well written, very evocative, gives you a strong sense of life in this time period, only reason I gave 4 stars rather than 5 was the lack of any joy in the book. Left me feeling quite miserable. Maybe life was really so brutish and depressing in the 17th century, but I am sure there were moments of celebration and happiness for people. I don't think I am being unrealistic here. Rather heavy on the misery. However wonderful writing, exquisite in parts.you really relate to the main character and her life. Recommend for this reason, but don't read if you are feeling depressed.
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