My 7th book for RIP
Rustication by Charles Palliser.
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (November 4, 2013)
An Amazon Best Book of the Month, November 2013: "Rusticated" was the polite 1800s term used when young men were suspended from school, and that's what’s happened to 17-year-old, opium-addicted Richard Shenstone at the start of Charles Pallister's creepy and addictive fourth novel. Shenstone is "sent down" from Cambridge and forced to return to his rural, rainy home, where he finds his family on the verge of losing their run-down mansion. His father has recently died, and his mother and sister are acting jumpy, sneaky, and strange. Told in the form of Richard's journal--"discovered" by the author 150 years later, in a county records office--we view the story, of desperate families acting desperately, through Richard's opium-fogged eyes. Pallister is an evocative writer, moody and lovely and atmospheric. At times, reading about life on the moors, I felt I should’ve been wrapped in an afghan blanket in front of a fire. As Richard once puts it, being stuck inside during the rain "felt frowsy, cabined, cribbed, and confined." Though the characters aren’t very likable, many of them self-absorbed and deceitful, the story is very catchy, a smart and spooky page turner. It's like reading a BBC Masterpiece Theater mystery, with a heavy dose of Downton (more like downtrodden) Abbey, with saucy maids and prude dowagers, earls and lords and priests. The dark, terrible truths slither out slowly, at times too slowly. “None of us can face the truth,” Richard says. Still, I’m always impressed by a writer who can keep me guessing for 300 pages and pull off one more twist on the last page. --Neal Thompson
This book was a bit different from other mysteries as it is written mostly as "journal entries" of a young man named Richard Shenstone.
I'd say the first third of the book was not a huge page turner, although as with any book written similar to "private letters", it does entice you to be nosey and read on.
Then it picks up greatly and you, along with Richard Shenstone, try to figure out just what the heck is going on. ... and then there's a murder. (knew there had to be one sooner or later!)
One does find oneself thinking about "who did what, and when" and the fact that this has got to be the most gossipy town ever!
Set in the 1880's the home and atmosphere is what you might call Dickenish. Especially many of the characters. The book is enjoyable, not top of the list, but still, if I find I don't skip a day reading at least some of the book, it can't be to badly written.
It is a good read for RIP.