sexta-feira, 16 de março de 2018

Book Review | Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield

William Bellman seems to be the perfect human specimen. He's handsome, talented, healthy, and successful. But he seemed also, to me, increasingly detached, cold, rational to a fault, and overall not at all relatable, and he's the lead character in Bellman & Black. None of the characters, actually, caught my attention. Diane Setterfield is a brilliant writer, and that's what kept me plodding through a plot that felt uninteresting even though the premise was promising, until I finished the book and was left unsatisfied as the richness of the prose was not accompanied by a captivating enough story. I so, so wanted to like this book.

Imagine this. Bellman kills a rook (crow) as a kid and that haunts him through his life as an afterthought. There's a sense of impending doom. He goes on to become a businessman, a very successful one making clothes and then managing the making of clothes. Then he marries and has four children, all the while neglecting his family in favor of his endeavors. Tragedy strikes. He bargains with a stranger in black and seems to go on to be even more successful by entering the mourning goods business and building an emporium. The plot is interspersed with little chapters that explain some curiosities about rooks and these birds are often in the shadows of the main chapters. Other than that, there's not really much connection to the events that started the book.

The plot dives deep into how mathematical, methodical, and without flaw Bellman goes about his life. That's what the action amounts to. He plans, multitasks, predicts, surpasses his predictions, and seems to bend time with all of his tasks being accomplished almost in mystical fashion. That's most of the story. There are no strong female characters. There's not much tension. There's not much character development other than Bellman. There's really no passion, it seemed to me. The end was not at all satisfying. Quite the contrary.

I was one of those who loved The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield's debut bestselling novel. Unfortunately, that maybe set the bar too high. About seven years passed and I would look up Setterfield's website to check on any upcoming novel. When I saw the summary for Bellman & Black I was ecstatic. I read her entire blog. When I started reading the book, I was engrossed in the plot until midway. When I got near the end and saw the third part of the book had only three or four pages, I knew I would not feel my time had been paid off. But her writing style will definitely make me go back to her third novel, Once Upon a River.



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