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Death of a Unicorn by Peter Dickinson
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Death of a Unicorn (1984)

by Peter Dickinson

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1114108,775 (3.75)3

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When I was a kid, I loved Dickinson's 'Changes' trilogy, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi story set in Britain. I've read a few of his other books, including some of the short-stories he published with his wife, Robin McKinley (one of my very favorite authors), and always loved his sense of place and his capturing of the feel of mythology.
I was aware that he also wrote adult mystery novels, but hadn't read any. I picked this up thinking it was a mystery. However, it's really not. There is a murder... but it doesn't show up as a plot element until the latter part of the book. I have to admit that I found the plot structure in general to be a little weak, which is the reason I went down to 3 stars.
However, there are things I loved about this book so much that I've already talked about it and recommended it to people. Although the book has no fantasy or mythological elements, it has that same vivid, wonderful sense of time and place that I've come to associate with Dickinson's writing. The book truly opens a window into an unglimpsed world... and lets you feel like you're just about ready to step through that window.
The main character is a society girl who ends up getting a job writing a satirical column in the society pages of a weekly magazine. Dickinson himself worked at the magazine 'Punch' for many years, and undoubtedly his portrayal of what it was like to work a a magazine in the 50's informs this novel. And that's what I really loved about this book: the view of a segment of society, the milieu of the magazine, the humor and interactions... it's wonderful.
The plot hooks on the affair the girl has with her older boss, and the fallout from it that occurs much later, in the 1980's, once she has become a successful and established businesswoman. While I liked seeing her success, the first part of the book was what really caught my interest. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Not this one; too slow and irritating. Try another. ( )
  Xleptodactylous | Apr 7, 2015 |
Plot: 2 stars
Characters: 2 1/2 stars
Style: 3 stars
Pace: 2 1/2 stars

I knew the streak of amazing books had to end.
I'd picked a bunch of random paperbacks off my TBR shelf to take to work with me, and I figured I'd read this one first. There were bits I started to like, but it's far more a character study in shallow 1950s bubblebrains than anything resembling a coherent narrative. The structure on this one was strange as well, leaping forward abruptly, and getting lost in side paths. I probably would give it 2 stars, but for the fact that there was something almost voyeuristic about it all, and that curiosity kept me reading. ( )
  Jami_Leigh | Mar 31, 2013 |
Lady Margaret Millett has been brought up as the heir to Cheadle, an enormous stately home that requires large and regular infusions of cash. But for a year in her twenties, the happiest of her life, Margaret writes for a magazine, a rival to Punch, and falls in love with the owner, the mysterious B.

Thirty years later, after a visit from an old colleague, Margaret resolves to make sense of the tragic events that ended her life with B.

Not bad, but the characters are two-dimensional. ( )
  pamelad | Dec 4, 2010 |
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