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48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Victorian melodrama of a thriller
Robert Goddard's take on the Martin Guerre theme of the ghost of the past returning to try to re-establish his identity, and be haunted by the present. It is the late Victorian era and we find a sophisticated English gentleman resurrecting himself from a supposed grave to become embroiled in emotional, legal, and violent contests as he endeavours to re-establish his...
Published on 2 Oct 2005 by Budge Burgess

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too wordy!
I've read a number of Robert Goddard's books and enjoyed them, but I didn't finish this one. It droned on a bit and frankly I got bored and moved on.
Published 11 months ago by Flamenca


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48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Victorian melodrama of a thriller, 2 Oct 2005
By 
Budge Burgess (Troon, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Painting The Darkness (Paperback)
Robert Goddard's take on the Martin Guerre theme of the ghost of the past returning to try to re-establish his identity, and be haunted by the present. It is the late Victorian era and we find a sophisticated English gentleman resurrecting himself from a supposed grave to become embroiled in emotional, legal, and violent contests as he endeavours to re-establish his name, claim the title and riches which are his due, and win back the woman he loved ... now married to another.
Goddard has built a reputation on his ability to weave mysteries and thrillers out of the passage of time - his stories reach back into the histories of his characters, explore the histories of nations, and create a depth and sophistication in storytelling which few can emulate. In 'Painting the Darkness', allusions to real events and the inclusion of real historical figures serve only to throw into relief the lack of verifiable history which James Norton can offer to prove his identity, and the refusal of his family and world to accept as valid the history he does provide.
This is a fairly lengthy novel, nearly 600 pages, and the first chapter is just a little slow. Goddard simulates the language of upper class, Victorian England - restrained, formal, refined; as you get into its rhythm and style, you become absorbed in the story, but those first few pages take you through a learning curve in the metre and formality of the language, and can be a little off-putting. Persevere, for this is a finely crafted tale, with Goddard's usual menu of red herrings, spiced and sauced, and served with many a twist.
Goddard is a very fine writer and an outstanding storyteller. 'Painting the Darkness' is no breakneck thriller - it moves at elegant pace, subtle as the swish of satin, graceful as a ballgown's passage across the floor, with just the hint of a well-turned ankle. Highly entertaining, with a convincing sense of place and time, it will keep you guessing to the end.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars extraordinary, 22 April 2006
By 
Didier (Ghent, Belgium) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Painting The Darkness (Paperback)
What a superb storyteller Robert Goddard is! From the very first pages the book grips you, and you find yourself wanting to know ever more...

The story doesn't move at breakneck speed, but Goddard times his story expertly, and you cannot help but find yourself wondering whether Norton is who he claims to be. Believe you me, Goddard will keep you guessing until the very end.

I should mention the prose too: the dialogues are absolutely first-rate, and the way Goddard can describe people and places, and conjure up an atmosphere is quite uncanny.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent escapism, 8 April 2012
This review is from: Painting The Darkness (Paperback)
The story opens as William Trenchard relaxes in the apparent idyll of settled domesticity. Then a stranger appears, claiming to be the man to whom his wife was previously engaged - an affair of the heart, brought to a close by the suicide of the young man. The stranger wants to reclaim his place in his family and in society - but is he who he says he is?

This is a long book - 600 pages - and it is action packed. Set in the late 1800s with a fair share of villainy and skulduggery, it definitely merits the description 'atmospheric historical mystery'. I got the same enjoyment from it as I got from Sarah Waters Fingersmith. Sometimes, it seems to me that books of this length and readability are quite thin on the ground - and I always feel happy to have unearthed another one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and tightly written drama., 1 July 2013
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This review is from: Painting The Darkness (Paperback)
Like all of Robert Goddard's stories, this displays a meticulous eye for historical and geographical detail. However, be aware that as a reader this demands a high level of alertness and concentration. The narrative constantly flits (without warning or preamble) between between 1882 and earlier points in time. The story takes in Ireland, Switzerland and the USA too, as well as England. I found myself constantly looking at the family tree, even towards the end of the novel when I should have been familiar with the characters. As another reviewer has pointed out, it is also difficult to identify a central character - everyone seems flawed in some way.
That said, this is a clever, intelligent and engrossing story, worthy of Wilkie Collins and Daphne Du Maurier, with the usual twists that we have come to expect form Goddard. It would be interesting to see this filmed or dramatized for TV, but sadly, it would probably be too deep and slow moving for modern TV companies.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cracking read, 30 Oct 2001
This review is from: Painting The Darkness (Paperback)
An excellent, atmospheric tale. It has all the layers, twists and turns that make Mr Goddard so readable. I thoroughly recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too wordy!, 7 Jan 2014
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I've read a number of Robert Goddard's books and enjoyed them, but I didn't finish this one. It droned on a bit and frankly I got bored and moved on.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An engaging melodrama, 27 Jun 2006
By 
HORAK (Zug, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
In the first day of October 1882, William Trenchard, co-owner of the Trenchard & Leavis retailing chain, is still a happy man in his marital status with his wife Constance Sumner. In the afternoon of that same day, a tall, slim and elegantly dresses man comes to The Limes residence and introduces himself under the name of James Davenall.
A firework of characters, twists and turns, plots and subplots. Mr Goddard is quite a storyteller and his adventures are an excellent entertainment. The book is read in an astonishingly vivacious way by the British actor Michael Kitchen who delivers a very good performance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars apa, 26 July 2013
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A cracking good read as expected from
Robert Goddard. ALWAYS a good storyteller that provides a different plot each time
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 15 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Painting The Darkness (Paperback)
Brilliant like all his other books. With his accurate and deep research and his creation of period atmosphere, Robert Goddard never disappoints
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely stunning -- a gripping, thrilling read., 29 Nov 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Painting The Darkness (Paperback)
Quite possibly the finest mystery I've ever read. Listening to the tape version in my car, I nearly ran off the road when the story pulled its big punch ... and I do mean BIG. Hold on to your hats. You will never, ever forget this one.
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Painting The Darkness
Painting The Darkness by Robert Goddard (Paperback - 29 Mar 2012)
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