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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another strong novel from Palliser, 19 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Rustication: A Novel (Paperback)
Rustication is Charles Palliser's latest novel (published November, 2013). His first novel, The Quincunx, was published in 1989 and it was written in the style of Charles Dickens as a literary exercise, Palliser being at the time a lecturer in literature and creative writing. Quincunx is a masterpiece.

His latest novel, while not the masterpiece that Quincunx was, is still an interesting book and an enjoyable read. Its format is that of a journal written by a seventeen year old boy, Richard Shenstone, who has been rusticated by Cambridge University, i.e. "sent down", or more literally, "sent to the country", or in more modern terms, suspended from college as a punishment. The Journal spans the days from his arrival in his mother's house on 12th December 1863 to the culmination of events in the story on the 13th January 1864.

This story is a mystery and I will go into no more detail about the plot but I will comment on Palliser's skill at misdirection and obfuscation. Even in the final pages of the novel I was not sure how it was going to end.

Throughout the book the reader is fed the views and thoughts of the author of the journal and his journal entries purportedly record his interactions and conversations with other people in the district and within his family. As a reader I was constantly asking myself if I was dealing with an unreliable narrator, was the reportage accurate, was the journal an elaborate red herring, etc...

The book holds the attention but the pace is a little slow for the first one hundred pages but it picks up speed for the final chapters. This is the second Palliser novel I have read but I will certainly be reading his others.

This is a book I would love to discuss with someone who has read it but I do not want to give away too many details in this review as that would spoil the experience.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Dec 2013 21:59:42 GMT
Huck Flynn says:
PM - inclined to give this a go - big fan of Qunicunx. i can thoroughly recommend Unburied and Betrayals

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Dec 2013 13:57:02 GMT
P. McCLEAN says:
Hi Huck. I am currently enjoying Unburied. Betrayals will follow soon after.

Posted on 22 Jul 2014 11:32:12 BDT
Myriam Ickx says:
Hello, PMC. Just got started with "Rustication", only read a few pages, but if the rest is up to my expectations, I would certainly like to discuss it further with you. I am glad to read that you consider "The Quincunx" as a masterpiece. I came across it years ago purely by chance, and have read it 3 times already, the last time even taking notes to make sure I did not lose track of all the mysterious elements. As this was about 20 years ago, I should go for a 4th reading soon... As to "Betrayals" and "Unburied", I also enjoyed them thoroughly. I do not know anything about Palliser's biography, but he is certainly a fascinating writer.
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