Sunday, 27 December 2015

Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield Review


Bellman & Black wasn’t just the worst novel I’ve read all year (and I’ve read some humdingers this year!) but it’s down there amongst the worst novels I’ve ever had the misfortune to read. 

The pathetic story (I can’t put enough quotation marks around that word so I won’t try) is about a Victorian entrepreneur called William Bellman who makes his mill a success and then sets up a successful funeral shop called Bellman & Black in London. 

I shit you not, that is 97% of the book! Some 300 pages devoted to how a fucking MILL and funeral parlour works! 

Bah! That load of toss got published. 300+ pages of nothing - NOTHING! It’s not even an intriguing character study, Bellman’s just a bland businessman who’s good at what he does. It’s beyond frustrating to read. Diane Setterfield makes Henry James’ novels look like goddamn thrillers in comparison! 

Bellman encounters some tragedy when his wife and kids die from disease, except for his daughter Dora. There’s a mysterious figure called Black that everyone reading instantly knows is Death, whom Bellman makes a deal with to spare Dora’s life. There are also tedious mentions throughout for the various collective nouns of rooks. That’s all the stuff that isn’t to do with how the mill or funeral parlour operates. 

No story, nothing of consequence happening, just Bellman building up one business and then another. Guys, if you’re writing something and have any doubts as to whether it’s any good, I point in the direction of Bellman & Black - if this drivel can get published, anybody’s can! 

I bitterly learned that just because I’m pre-approved for a book on Netgalley that I don’t then have to click accept! I’ll never read another thing by Diane Setterfield. 

There’s a noun for this skull-ringingly boring novel: GARBAGE!

Bellman & Black

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