Summary and book reviews of Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt

Undermajordomo Minor

by Patrick deWitt

Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Sep 2015, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2016, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sinéad Fitzgibbon

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About this Book

Book Summary

A love story, an adventure story, a fable without a moral, and an ink-black comedy of manners, Undermajordomo Minor is Patrick deWitt's long-awaited follow-up to the internationally bestselling and critically acclaimed novel The Sisters Brothers.

Lucien (Lucy) Minor is the resident odd duck in the bucolic hamlet of Bury. Friendless and loveless, young and aimless, Lucy is a compulsive liar, a sickly weakling in a town famous for producing brutish giants. Then Lucy accepts employment assisting the Majordomo of the remote, foreboding Castle Von Aux.

While tending to his new post as Undermajordomo, Lucy soon discovers the place harbors many dark secrets, not least of which is the whereabouts of the castle's master, Baron Von Aux. He also encounters the colorful people of the local village - thieves, madmen, aristocrats, and Klara, a delicate beauty whose love he must compete for with the exceptionally handsome soldier, Adolphus. Thus begins a tale of polite theft, bitter heartbreak, domestic mystery, and cold-blooded murder in which every aspect of human behavior is laid bare for our hero to observe.

Undermajordomo Minor is an adventure, a mystery, and a searing portrayal of rural Alpine bad behavior, but above all it is a love story and Lucy must be careful, for love is a violent thing.

The Count & Countess, Duke & Duchess

On the morning of the guests' arrival, Mr Olderglough had taken Lucy aside and told him, "I will look after the Duke and Duchess, and you will mind the Count and Countess. Is that quite all right with you, boy?"

Lucy answered that it was, but it struck him as curious, for Mr Olderglough had never positioned an instruction in so accommodating a manner before. "May I ask why you prefer the Duke and Duchess to the Count and Countess?" he said.

Here Mr Olderglough nodded, as if he had been found out. "We have been through a good deal together, you and I, and so I feel I can speak to you in confidence, and as a peer. Are you comfortable with that?"

"Of course, sir."

"Very good. Well, boy, if I'm to address the truth of the matter, none of the coming guests is what might be called desirable company. Actually, I have in the past found them to be distinctly undesirable."

"In what way, sir?"

"In many ways which you will, I fear, discover for...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Undermajordomo Minor could be called a comedy of contradictions. Almost nothing about the novel is as it first appears, with the narrative confounding and controverting our expectations. This is a fantastical novel but isn't fantasy. It styles itself on Grimm's fables and fairy stories, but ultimately fails to provide any underlying moral lesson. This book is Patrick deWitt at his pitch-black noir best — this is an author who is fast making the dark comedy genre his own.   (Reviewed by Sinéad Fitzgibbon).

Full Review (746 words).

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Media Reviews

Library Journal

This novel's cheeky tone, dry wit, and dark undercurrents call to mind William Goldman's The Princess Bride and the work of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. While the story seems to meander at times, by the end, all the pieces fit neatly into the author's carefully crafted design. Slight but recommended for the fun and whimsy of its storytelling.

Kirkus Reviews

[A] sometimes-subversive and smart entertainment that blends lighthearted moments with more thoughtful reckonings of the human condition: "I have suffered through an era of unluckiness," indeed. For fans of the books of Neil Gaiman, the films of M. Night Shyamalan, and similar fabulisms.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. DeWitt uses familiar tropes to lull the reader into a false sense of grounding, delivering with abundant good humor a fully realized, consistently surprising, and thoroughly amusing tale of longing, love, madness, and mirth.

Author Blurb Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven
Undermajordomo Minor wears a fairytale cloak, but at its wondrous and fantastical heart lies an unexpectedly moving story about love, home, and the difficulty of finding one's place in the world. Elegant, beautifully strange, and utterly superb.

Author Blurb Neel Mukherjee, author of The Lives of Others
Patrick deWitt has an untrammelled and utterly original imagination. I cannot think of anyone else who could pull off so beautifully this controlled explosion of drollery, mischief, sly fun and tenderness.

Author Blurb Maria Semple, author of Where'd You Go, Bernadette?
An electrifying adventure, both tender and profane. Nervy, hilarious and utterly unpredictable, Patrick deWitt has served up another dazzler.

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Gothic Literature and the Influence of Dracula

A vintage 1931 poster of the Hollywood adaptation of Dracula Dracula by Irish author Bram (Abraham) Stoker is widely considered to be a classic of Gothic horror literature. With the possible exception of Frankenstein, it is perhaps the most recognizable and influential of all such novels. Stoker's most famous work was not, however, at the vanguard in the development of the genre; at the time of its publication in 1897, Gothic literature was already well established. Over 130 years had passed since Horace Walpole had written The Castle of Otranto, the first ever Gothic novel in the English language, in 1764. In the intervening time, many authors made important contributions to the canon. Ann Radcliffe was a notable pioneer of the form in the late 18th century. Her work greatly influenced the likes...

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