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The Bellwether Revivals: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Benjamin Wood

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1741368,238 (3.66)15
Member:SharonGoforth
Title:The Bellwether Revivals: A Novel
Authors:Benjamin Wood
Info:Viking Adult (2012), Hardcover, 432 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
Rating:
Tags:fiction, 21st century, novel, benjamin wood

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The Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin Wood

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I picked this up because of it's seeming parallels with the fabulous [b:The Secret History|29044|The Secret History|Donna Tartt|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1327733397s/29044.jpg|221359] by Donna Tartt. Most of the books that claim to be along the lines of Secret History have always somewhat disappointed me. This one however was different ....

This is possibly one of the truest comparable books to Secret History I've encountered. It's very 'classily' written and has a slightly sinister undercurrent which pulls you in nicely and the ending was unexpected AND didn't disappoint me.

The main reason this lost a star for me was it simply took too long to lure me in. I was just under half way through the novel before I got to the 'couldn't put it down' part.

Well worth a read.
( )
  ElaineRuss | Sep 23, 2013 |
Originally posted here, and, until July 9, I have a copy for giveaway there as well.

The Bellwether Revivals begins with one heck of a hook. While most of the chapters are lengthy, it opens with one of two short pages. These pack quite a wallop, though. The reader learns that there are two dead bodies and one nigh dead being carted off by the paramedics. At this point, the readers has no idea what happened, but most definitely wants to know. This technique of a small climactic scene from the end of the book being placed at the opening to create a mystery and tension to push through the novel is certainly popular, but Wood has used it effectively.

My curiosity from those two pages is what propelled me through The Bellwether Revivals. The novel, as a whole, just did not call to me. While it is masterfully written, and will no doubt acquire much critical acclaim, the novel did not speak to me on a personal level. I was bored through most of it, a feeling aided by the incredibly long chapters.

Though I haven't actually read Brideshead Revisited, from what I know of it (having seen two film adaptations), the comparison is apt. On a basic level, The Bellwether Revivals is one of those stories about a poor boy becoming caught up with a fantastically intelligent, beautiful, wealthy family (particularly Iris and Eden Bellwether), and seeing that things aren't necessarily so shiny in their world. This plot line has never really been my favorite, but I think the book will definitely appeal to fans of The Great Gatsby, Brideshead Revisited, and Special Topics in Calamity Physics.

The psychological aspects of the story, more than the wtf happened of the opening, was the most intriguing part of the book to me. I can't talk about it too much without giving anything away, but there are is a lot of psychoanalysis. Additionally, there are some very interesting discussions of faith and its healing powers. On an intellectual, this held much appeal for me.

My difficulty with the story was definitely in the characters. I feel like I complain about this a lot, but, when I read, I read primarily for character. I lose myself in a story through the characters. Although I did sympathize with Oscar's plight somewhat, I couldn't empathize at all, and, in his shoes, I would definitely have run for the hills from this crazy ass family.

The Bellwethers themselves may be charismatic and wealthy, but I just didn't see the attraction they held for him. Well, that's not true. They represented a life he could have been living but wasn't: that of academia. Still, their individual personalities were not at all likeable; they were all very bipolar, very changeable from one moment to the next. The whole friend group was so insular and self-flattering, not to mention pandering endlessly to Eden Bellwether. I was not invested in any of them, which is why finding out which of them did not survive was seriously anticlimactic.

As I said, though, I know others have loved and will love this novel. I would recommend not judging solely off of my opinion. The novel is very well written, but simply not my cup of cocoa. ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
Very, very awesome. I enjoyed this immensely, and I would definitely recommend it if you're looking for a discussion book - I want to talk about Eden to anyone who'll listen, but no one I know has read the thing, so... ( )
  jen.e.moore | Mar 30, 2013 |
Oscar, Eden, Iris, Cambridge, mad musical delusional Eden ( )
  Mumineurope | Feb 19, 2013 |
If you say Gothic I am there. I really love an atmospheric English read but this didn't do it for me. A strange meandering plot and characters I couldn't care about sunk this one for me.

Oscar Lowe is a true academic but he can't afford college so he does his studying on the side while he works a nursing home job. He falls for poor little rich girl Iris Bellwether which probably would have been just dandy except for the fact that she has a crazy brother with bit of a cruel streak. Eden Bellwether may or may not be able to physically heal people with music. In any case he suffers from delusions of grandeur. The more Oscar learns about the Bellwether family and friends the more he becomes convinced that "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark." Just how rotten he will soon find out. There is also a sub plot involving one of the nursing home patients and his former lover who attempts to evaluate Eden.

The novel just left me cold. There were parts that were interesting but there were more parts that dragged. Another strange thing was that it was set in contemporary times but the way it was written made it seem like it happened in the 1800's. the characters and setting seemed very old fashioned even though there were supposedly in the year 2003. The whole thing might have worked better if it had been written as historical fiction. ( )
  arielfl | Aug 9, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670023590, Hardcover)

A sophisticated debut novel about the hypnotic influence of love, the beguiling allure of money and the haunting power of music

Bright, bookish Oscar Lowe has escaped the squalid urban neighborhood where he was raised and made a new life for himself amid the colleges and spires of Cambridge. He has grown to love the quiet routine of his life as a care assistant at a local nursing home, where he has forged a close friendship with its most ill-tempered resident, Dr. Paulsen.

All that changes one fateful day when Oscar, while wandering the bucolic grounds of Cambridge, is lured into the chapel at Kings College by the otherworldly sound of an organ. It is here that he meets and falls in love with Iris Bellwether, a beautiful and enigmatic medical student. Drawn into the world of scholarship and privilege, Oscar soon becomes embroiled in the strange machinations of Iris’s older brother, Eden.

A charismatic but troubled musical prodigy, Eden convinces his sister and their close-knit circle of friends to participate in a series of disturbing experiments. Eden believe that music—with his expert genius to guide it—can cure people. As the line between genius and madness begins to blur, however, Oscar fears that it is danger and not healing that awaits them all—but it might be too late. . . .

A masterful work of psychological suspense and emotional resonance from a brilliant young talent, The Bellwether Revivals will hold readers spellbound until its breathtaking conclusion.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:37 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Nursing home assistant Oscar Lowe is drawn into the opulent world of the charismatic Bellwether siblings and falls in love with medical student Iris before realizing the dangers posed by troubled Eden Bellwether, who believes he can heal people with his music.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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