Saturday 7 January 2012

The Bellweather Revivals by Benjamin Wood - Book Review

Title: The Bellwether Revivals
Author: Benjamin Wood
Publisher: McClelland and Stuart
Publication Date: 20 March 2012
Pages: 428
Format: E-Book - PDF
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: ARC from NetGalley

The Bellwether Revivals opens and closes with bodies. The story of whose bodies and how they come to be spread about an elegant house on the river near Cambridge is told by Oscar, a young, bright working class man who has fallen in love with an upper-class Cambridge student, Iris, and thereby become entangled with a group of close friends, led by Iris's charismatic, brilliant, possibly dangerous brother. For Eden Bellwether believes he can heal -- and perhaps more -- through the power of music.

In this masterful debut, we too are seduced by this gilded group of young people, entranced by Eden's powerful personality and his obvious talent as a musician, and caught off guard by the strangeness of Iris and Eden's parents. And we find ourselves utterly unsure as to whether Eden Bellweather is a saviour or a villain, and whether Oscar will be able to solve this mystery in time to save himself, if not everyone else.
(Goodreads Synopsis)

This was a really well-woven story that was indeed reminiscent of Brideshead Revisited in some ways. It is an atmospheric piece that draws you in right from the start as you follow Oscar through the tale.

This is a very character-driven piece and I must say that I thought the characters all came across well. They were nicely rounded and believable and you really felt the drama of the story with them.

The prose was excellent and, as an amateur musician myself, I loved the way the idea of music was threaded throughout the story. It really added to the atmosphere and to the depth of the piece. The pacing was nicely down and there was never a dull moment in the tale. There was a very sophisticated and subtle use of suspense as Oscar (and the reader) wait to see what Eden will do next and I liked how the novel started with the ending and then said 'this is how we got here'—it makes an excellent hook to draw the reader's interest.

This book offers a perfect blend of literary fiction and psychology - a truly excellent debut novel.

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