Bellman & Black: Book summary and reviews of Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield

Bellman & Black

by Diane Setterfield

Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield X
Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield
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  • Published in USA  Nov 2013
    224 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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Book Summary

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Thirteenth Tale comes a dark and mesmerizing ghost story guaranteed to haunt you to your very core.

As a boy, William Bellman commits one small, cruel act: killing a bird with his slingshot. Little does he know the unforeseen and terrible consequences of the deed, which is soon forgotten amidst the riot of boyhood games. By the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, William seems to be a man blessed by fortune - until tragedy strikes and the stranger in black comes. Then he starts to wonder if all his happiness is about to be eclipsed. Desperate to save the one precious thing he has left, William enters into a rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner, to found a decidedly macabre business.

And Bellman & Black is born. 

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A gothic tale in which moments of tedium are relieved by morbidity." - Kirkus

"Poetic and mysterious." - Booklist

This information about Bellman & Black shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
"Ivy and Mary was here."

Those words are the beginning, the ending, and the basis of NECESSARY LIES. Those five words go full circle in this incredible, haunting book.

You will be transported to another world as you read NECESSARY LIES. A world of poverty and illiteracy as well as pity for the way the families had to live.

Jane, a physician's wife, was the new social worker dealing with the Hart and Jordan families. The families worked on a farm owned by Mr. Gardiner who had connections with both families - connections that were not on the up and up. The Hart girls, Ivy and Mary Ella, were the biggest problems for the family and definitely the social worker. Together each family told a lot of secrets and "necessary lies" to the social worker.

The book's characters were genuine and will tug at your emotions. One thing after another happens to the family, and the social worker gets drawn into the family's plight even though the social services agency told her some of things she was doing for the family were not acceptable.

The book flowed very nicely and was divided into chapters told in the voice of the main characters. You will become attached to the characters as I did and will be staying up late to "turn the pages" of this well-researched and beautifully written, poignant book based on a true program implemented in North Carolina.

NECESSARY LIES is the perfect title because lies were necessary for the characters to survive. It is heart wrenching yet informative as you follow the characters through their inadequate, restricted days. I thoroughly enjoyed this insightful, sensitive first book I have read by Diane Chamerblain. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

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.

Betty T.

Bellman & Black
First I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It held my attention and taught me quite a bit about the businesses that Mr. Bellman threw himself so completely into. It is beautifully written. However, there were a few flaws (dare I use that term?) that held me back from giving it five stars.

If you are a fan of Edgar Allan Poe I suspect you may enjoy this book as much as I did. It has a hint of darkness -- not a raven, but a rook (same family, I believe). But overall "Bellman and Black" seemed to be more a novella than a novel (although a bit long for a novella).

A novel generally has a main plot with several subplots going on at the same time to add complexity; a novella is not as complex. "Bellman and Black basically has one story throughout the entire book. Only one character is thoroughly developed in "Bellman and Black". With only one character developed this lends to only one point of view. There is a lot of detail regarding the work that Bellman oversees. I suspect that will bore quite a few people. I actually found those parts very interesting.

The full title of this book is actually "Bellman and Black: A Ghost Story". I'm not sure why it is called a ghost story. Yes, like Poe's stories there is a dark side but I would not put it in the category of ghost stories. Yet, even with all my negative criticisms, I did enjoy it very much.

Jonna

A Ghost story...may be not
"Bellman and Black" by Diane Setterfield author of "The Thirteenth Tale" has provide us with another great read. A ghost story not what I thought.
I did find the story gripping from the start. The pages kept turning until I was finished.

The descriptive writing made me feel that I was right there in the time period. Historical fiction giving light to the lives and business of milling cloth. You felt the pride of the townspeople, their grief and rebuilding of lives. The use of the Rook throughout the story was intriguing as well as informational. Loved the Rook point of view.

Did not read it as a ghost story and did not find it as a ghost story...was disappointed that it was called "a ghost story".

Lorraine R. (Southampton, NY)

Bellman and Black
Diane Setterfield has written another darkly Gothic novel in which the protagonist, William Bellman enters into a partnership with a phantom stranger, Black. The set of circumstances he encounters are haunted by a childhood game in which he kills a rook. The author weaves the symbolism of the rook into the tale of Bellman's fortunes and misfortunes. A fascinating story.

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.

...13 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Diane Setterfield Author Biography

Diane Setterfield's debut novel The Thirteenth Tale was a no 1 New York Times bestseller. Published in 38 countries, it has sold more than 3 million copies and was made into a television drama scripted by Christopher Hampton, starring Olivia Colman and Vanessa Redgrave. Her second novel was Bellman & Black and her third novel is Once Upon a River. Born in rural Berkshire, she now lives in Oxford, by the Thames.

Author Interview
Link to Diane Setterfield's Website

Name Pronunciation
Diane Setterfield: die-ann seter-field

Other books by Diane Setterfield at BookBrowse
  • The Thirteenth Tale jacket
  • Once Upon a River jacket
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