Alice R. (Alexandria, VA)
A Ghost Story?
I have not read The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, but heard good things about it and was looking forward to reading Bellman & Black. Although B&B is described as "A Ghost Story" on the book cover and title page, I didn't really see it as one. For me, ghost stories should be somewhat haunting and maybe a bit terrifying--Bellman & Black was neither.
B&B takes place in mid-19th century England and is the tale of William Bellman. It begins with an incident in his childhood and pretty much ends at his death. Bellman is a driven man who has experienced more than his share of tragedy. His single-mindedness and acuity lead to his success and wealth as a businessman, but at the same time do not allow him to appreciate that success or any of the good things that he has. Instead, he expends all his energy to maintain and improve his success and is obsessed with a perceived debt that he owes his absent partner, Black.
Bellman & Black is very readable and Bellman's story interesting, but I came away a little disappointed. Bellman & Black is a ghost story only in the loosest sense but, beyond that and more importantly, Bellman is a tragic character who is never able to see the error of his ways.
Catherine H. (Nashua, NH)
Where dit the ghost go?
If you are looking for a ghost story, please skip this book as the ghost could be named "L'Arlesienne" rather than Black. But if you are looking for a book on the industrial revolution in 18th century England, this book is for you.
The story made me think of Zola's Ladies' Paradise but for the location (London instead or Paris).
After reading The thirteenth tale, I was expecting a gothic kind of story: big was my surprise as I finished the last page, I was still waiting for the ghost to appear.
Dianne S. (Green Valley, AZ)
Where's the Ghost?
The title Bellman and Black, A Ghost Store lead me to anticipate...a ghost. Anticipate I did! The writing in this book was beautiful and I was able to breeze along and connect with the characters and waited for the the ending to expose the ghost. Perhaps I missed something. The end confused me and left me thinking, well maybe Black is the ghost of the raven or maybe the ghost of the memories that Bellman seemed able to get past and get on with his life. I just don't know. I still loved the writing though and perhaps with a second read or a good book club discussion would shed some light on it for me.
Madeline M. (FL)
Bellman and Black
I was pulled in right away by the storytelling nature of the voice, and the underlying eerie quality of the prose. But after the first chunk of the book, I wasn't as hooked by the story or the characters as I wanted to be. I kept reading because the writing itself was lovely and I was interested enough to see what was going to happen.
Ilene R. (Northfield, IL)
A dark journey..
First of all, I was eagerly anticipating this book. I loved Diane Setterfield's previous book, The Thirteenth Tale. The cover mentions Bellman & Black A Ghost Story. Who doesn't' like a good ghost story? I was about half way through the book when I realized there wasn't any character development. The reader would meet a character and then they were gone in a chapter. Its about William Bellman. He had an incident in his childhood that will haunt him later in life. By the time I got to this part of the book- I didn't care. It isn't clear what time period the book is set. I tried to get through this book. I feel badly that I had to skim to the end. Maybe it's just me--I like to connect to a story by the characters. There wasn't that connection for me. I'm so sorry to say that I can't recommend this book.
Sarah B. (Streamwood, IL)
This is a beautifully written book. It falls into the rare occasion I wish I was allowed to give half stars. The story was somewhat predictable to me, but I was sucked in because of the writing. The book did make me think, about death and the rituals we follow. I wish I had friends that had read this already to discuss it with.
Joyce W. (Rochester, MN)
A Ghost story
Diane is a beautiful writer. Her books are mesmerizing, her words flow. There is so much to think about when you finish her books. I wish she would write more and faster. As you read, it is fascinating to watch everything unfold. Bellman and Black would make a very good book club book; you want to discuss and share ideas when you finish the book. She knows how to write a thought provoking read.