3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I wish I'd re-read Bleak House instead,
This review is from: Tom-All-Alone's (Charles Maddox 2) (Hardcover)
I'm one of the minority of readers who didn't like Shepherd's Murder at Mansfield Park so was reluctant to read this when it came up in our book group: in some ways it's better than the first book (not quite so silly), but still, ultimately, a rather pointless literary exercise.
Taking Bleak House(probably my favourite Dickens novel) and The Woman in White, this melds narratives, plot-points and characters to create a different story, but one which has become all too familiar in modern Victoriana revolving around sex, madness, repression, perversity, power, and the ubiquitous asylums and brothels. For good measure, Shepherd then adds in Jack the Ripper to really up the potboiler stakes.
Shepherd's skills lie in catching the tone and register of her source authors: here she negotiates between Dickens' omniscient narrator and Hester's narrative - but while she captures the voices, her own book frequently wanders along aimlessly with a loose and baggy plot insecurely hitched to Dickens and Collins. There is much scene-setting and Victorian vignettes but I was never truly gripped by this book.
I really like the idea of what Shepherd is doing, but neither of her books has worked for me - I wish I'd spent the time re-reading the superlative Bleak House instead.