This is a superb collection by a master of the art of literary detection. John Sutherland is steeped in the English classics and in picking to pieces faulty plot-lines or inconsistencies he sets puzzles and, mostly solves them. Are there three pianos in the Sedley household in Vanity Fair or just one? What are we to think about the unlikely-seeming churning flood in The Mill on the Floss, which kills Maggie and Tom Tulliver? And what about the various degrees of relationship that exist between almost everyone in Middlemarch?
These and questions like them are enjoyably discussed and solutions offered by the tremendously knowledgeable and gracious Mr Sutherland. He shows such gentle care for the novels he knows so well and novelists he so obviously loves that one does not consider them to be flawed so much as forgivably human after all. The three books that make up this compendium edition are absolutely fascinating. Even when there are gaps in the reader's history of reading, the puzzles themselves captivate.
on 2 August 2014
For someone who delights in finding tiny *errors* in books, he is sometimes careless in his readings of the texts. The essays are thought-provoking though.
Physically, the book is short and very thick and this makes it difficult to read. Some of the pages came loose as I was reading my copy .