Monday, September 1, 2008

Review: Kept, by DJ Taylor

Kept is a Victorian murder mystery. Set in the 1860s, the book opens when an East Anglia squire falls from his horse and dies. His wife later goes mad and goes to live at Easton Hall, the home of Jonas Dixey, an eccentric, amateur taxidermist. Seemingly unconnected is a train robbery orchestrated by a couple of crooked lawyers and their henchmen.

Channeling Dickens, Thackeray, Tennyson, and the sensationalist novelists of the 1860s, Taylor gives us a wonderfully descriptive picture of Victorian England. It’s clear that the author has done his research. While it takes a little while for the book to get to the point, the mystery is a little anticlimactic, and the book doesn’t really seem to have a proper ending, the characters in the novel are intriguing, lively, and unique. By far my favorite character was Esther, the lively kitchenmaid at Easton Hall. You never know where the story is going to take you next, and that’s what I liked about Kept. It’s similar to The Meaning of Night in that it provides its reader with a reasonably realistic, understated, fictionalized view of Victorian England.

3 comments:

Kristen M. said...

I agree. I read this in February and my reading journal note on it was "too many characters, no real mystery, long to show purpose". It was an interesting read about Victorian England (especially the schemes of the lawyers) but it wasn't what I expected it to be since it has the word "mystery" on the cover. I liked The Meaning of Night much better as it provided a real mystery and some good suspense.

Danielle said...

I thought it was a ell done Victorian pastiche as well. The mystery was understated, but everything else seemed spot on.

literatehousewife said...

This is on my within the next 6 books list. I haven't read much about Victorian England. Hopefully I'll like it.

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