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Derby Day by D. J. Taylor
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Derby Day

by D. J. Taylor

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1187102,161 (3.78)1 / 24

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Rather well-written, with well-developped, intriguing characters. However, the plot seems over-extended : I got the feeling it could have been a short story rather than a 400-odd novel. None of the characters are really endearing, but they are well fleshed-out, albeit in a subtle way. ( )
  JRuel | Sep 18, 2013 |
Rather a tedious book. Clearly meticulously researched, but very laboured and desperately heavy going.
Reading this book was a little like watching grass grow in real time, but maybe not quite as exciting. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Aug 14, 2012 |
4 stars for the pacy narrative and period detail. Mr Taylor paints a compelling picture of the niceties of off course betting in Victorian England, the roaring trade in buying and selling notes ("bills") of credit, and the general crushing boredom of lower and upper middle class life. His characters are well drawn and broadly sympathetic and the plot around the ownership, running and potential success (or not) of the horse Tiberius is engrossing. Mr Taylor is also able to keep the Victorian tone of the narrative fairly steady, with only the occasional slip

So far so good. But it falls down in a couple of ways. Firstly, the female characters are a lot less believable than the male. Mrs Happerton is a central character in the plot - and yet her motives remain obscure. All the male characters find her sly and enigmatic - and its seems the author is unable to pin her down either. Which is fine in a way - but it does leave some important plot threads loose, at least for me. Similarly the governess Miss Ellington is dispatched to the depths of Lincolnshire with much fanfare and dread - and then left to her own devices, as though the author also can't work out what a young woman would do to amuse herself in these circumstances,

So overall an enjoyable book, perfect for the beach pool or plane, but light ( )
  Opinionated | Aug 11, 2012 |
Are you, perhaps, a fan of the Victorian novel who finds yourself coming sadly to the realization that this will not be the summer you manage to re-read Bleak House after all? If so, you should find this clever and highly entertaining tale of the intrigues and subterfuges practiced by "sporting gentlemen" intent on making their fortunes upon the hallowed turf of Epsom Down an eminently satisfying substitution. Period detail abounds, the characters are worthy of Dickens and Thackeray, and all the niceties of the genre (including chapter titles such as "Captain McTurk Takes Charge" and "The Triumph of a Modern Man") are observed. Captain McTurk also figures in a previous novel by D.J. Taylor (Kept: A Victorian Mystery), but lack of familiarity with the first book will in no way impede a reader's enjoyment of this one. ( )
  booksinthebelfrey | Jun 10, 2012 |
This subtitled Victorian mystery is centered around George Happerton, a man of uncertain means, questionable morals and high ambitions, who seeks to make a fortune by obtaining a race horse and entering him in the biggest horse race of the year. To accomplish this, he connivingly marries the daughter of a well-to-do lawyer in London, and the two manage to wheedle the funds he needs to purchase the animal. Happerton engages several shady characters to obtain additional capital, which he uses to bet in the race.

This was a well written mystery novel, which held my interest for the first 2/3 of the book. However, the last 1/3, which corresponded to the day of the race, was a long slow drag, which seemed like a 45 rpm record suddenly being played at 33 rpm. Overall this was an enjoyable novel, in keeping with this year's "Booker Lite" theme, but it will leave no strong impression with me, and did not deserve to make this year's longlist. ( )
1 vote kidzdoc | Sep 17, 2011 |
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Sky the colour of a fish's underside; grey smoke diffusing over a thousand house-fronts; a wind moving in from the east: London.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0701183586, Hardcover)

As the shadows lengthen over the June grass, all England is heading for Epsom Downs - high life and low life, society beauties and Whitechapel street girls, bookmakers and gypsies, hawkers and acrobats, punters and thieves. Whole families stream along the Surrey back-roads, towards the greatest race of the year. Hopes are high, nerves are taut, hats are tossed in the air - this is Derby Day. For months people have been waiting and plotting for this day. Even in dark November, when the wind whistles through the foggy London courts, the alehouses and gentlemen's clubs echo to the sound of disputed odds. In Belgrave Square old Mr Gresham is baffled by his tigerish daughter Rebecca, whose intentions he cannot fathom. In the clubs of St James' rakish Mr Happerton plays billiards with his crony Captain Raff, while in darkest Lincolnshire sad Mr Davenant broods over his financial embarrassments and waits for his daughter's new governess. Across the channel the veteran burglar Mr Pardew is packing his bags to return, to the consternation of the stalwart detective Captain McTurk. Everywhere money jingles and plans are laid. Uniting them all is the champion horse Tiberius, on whose performance half a dozen destinies depend. In this rich and exuberant novel, rife with the idioms of Victorian England, the mysteries pile high, propelling us towards the day of the great race, and we wait with bated breath as the story gallops to a finish that no one expects.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:25:05 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

As the shadows lengthen over the June grass, all England is heading for Epsom Downs - high life and low life, society beauties and Whitechapel street girls, bookmakers and gypsies, hawkers and acrobats, punters and thieves. Whole families stream along the Surrey back-roads, towards the greatest race of the year. Hopes are high, nerves are taut, hats are tossed in the air - this is Derby Day.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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