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Rustication: A Novel Paperback – 8 Nov 2013
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"Palliser creates a deliciously gothic atmosphere, particularly in his descriptions of the landscape[...]" Stephanie Merritt, The Observer
"Palliser s hold on his narrative is enough to turn it into an exercise in pure form. As in a superior detective novel, character, scene and incidental detail fade away and all that remains is the thrill of the chase[...]" The Spectator
"a twisting, mesmerising story" The Times
"Palliser adds the modern pleasure of ambiguity to this rich and authentic confection of Gothic suspense." The Independent
"[Riddles are ultimately, satisfyingly unraveled and a darker reality about genteel Victorian society revealed than novelists of that era ever dared imagine." --The Daily Mail
"Palliser adds the modern pleasure of ambiguity to this rich and authentic confection of Gothic suspense." --The Independent
"Palliser s hold on his narrative is enough to turn it into an exercise in pure form. As in a superior detective novel, character, scene and incidental detail fade away and all that remains is the thrill of the chase[...]" ----The Spectator
From the Inside Flap
Charles Palliser's work has been hailed as "so compulsively absorbing that reality disappears" (New York Times). Since his extraordinary debut, The Quincunx, his works have sold over one million copies worldwide. With his new novel, Rustication, he returns to the town of Thurchester, which he evoked so hauntingly in The Unburied.
It is winter 1863, and Richard Shenstone, aged seventeen, has been sent down-"rusticated"-from Cambridge under a cloud of suspicion. Addicted to opium and tormented by sexual desire, he finds temporary refuge in a dilapidated old mansion on the southern English coast inhabited by his newly impoverished mother and his sister, Effie. Soon, graphic and threatening letters begin to circulate among his neighbors, and Richard finds himself the leading suspect in a series of crimes and misdemeanors ranging from vivisection to murder.
Atmospheric, lurid, and brilliantly executed, Rustication confirms Palliser's reputation as "our leading contemporary Victorian novelist" (Guardian).
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Told in a series of journal entries written by 17 year old Richard who has been sent down from Cambridge, this has enormous fun with the creaking, dilapidated old mansion, dark family secrets, subversive sex, gossiping neighbours, and the quest for an inheritance with which it is concerned.
Saying the things that authentic Victorian novelists were forbidden to spell out, this is like the dark underbelly of Trollope's Barchester novels. Palliser writes with elegance and a nicely old-fashioned attention to character, voice and plot which is refreshing - hugely enjoyable.
Something I have liked this much in years!
This is the first book I've read by Charles Palliser and I really enjoyed the narrative style; the linear plot moves forward by journal entries recounting significant events and thoughts. Small town introspection and suspicion are caught to perfection as we hear snippets of conversation and speculate about what's going on and why. There's a very strong sense of Victorian period with their grubby double standards and repressions running throughout as an undercurrents. The writing is elegant and the characters individual and convincing. There were shades of Mrs Gaskell at times, particularly in some of the attitudes and behaviours of the females. A number of satisfying mysteries and enough pace to keep me engrossed, so all in all a very satisfying read. I'm keen to read other books by this author after this!
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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