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The Bellwether Revivals: A Novel by Benjamin…
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The Bellwether Revivals: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Benjamin Wood

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2021658,111 (3.69)25
Member:SharonGoforth
Title:The Bellwether Revivals: A Novel
Authors:Benjamin Wood
Info:Viking Adult (2012), Hardcover, 432 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:fiction, 21st century, novel, benjamin wood

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The Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin Wood

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English (14)  French (2)  All languages (16)
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Six-word review: Youth exerts strange power over friends.

Extended review:

From the beginning, The Bellwether Revivals has a creepy Tana French feel. In fact, the story of an outsider who joins a group of five friends with a pronounced strangeness about them, friends who share some mystic bond and engage in unusual ritual practices, is more than a little reminiscent of The Likeness.

The story takes off in an altogether different direction, however; the similarity is more one of atmosphere than of plot and character, although in both there is a dominant figure whose exceptional qualities rule the group. In the present case, an almost unearthly charisma gives rise to a collective delusion, with traumatic results.

Even though I'd place this one several notches below The Likeness on the scale for style, execution, characterization, and polish, I think it's likely to appeal to very similar readerly tastes. The dynamic among strikingly different personalities and the way they complement one another, and the effects that occur as a newcomer attempts to fit in, drive the plot to an unexpected outcome with an otherworldly feel.

The main character, Oscar, does not make much of an impression; he is more like the host of the drama, the pretext that brings the reader in, than a central figure. As such, he is not especially memorable. I liked the treatment of several secondary characters and an odd subplot, which, however, never really answers all my questions.

In sum, I liked it well enough, and it held my attention through 405 pages despite a number of copyediting lapses, which of course I marked; but I don't consider it a standout.

And I'm always going to hold something back from an author who writes "Woah." ( )
2 vote Meredy | Apr 26, 2015 |
Oscar's life as a care assistant is quiet and ordinary until one day, as he crosses the campus at Cambridge, he hears organ music that pulls him into the chapel. That single act brings him into contact with the Bellwethers: beautiful and interesting, Iris, and her fascinating and intense brother, Eden. Oscar is quickly drawn into the small circle of friends that orbit Eden and learns about Eden's obsession with his theories on music. Essentially, Eden believes that music does not just influence emotions but can actually cause them and that the powers of music are vastly untapped. Suddenly, Oscar is intwined in a strange effort to understand if Eden's powers with music are real or just the delusions of a brilliant mind.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book as I had mostly picked it up because it fit a challenge item and the description sounded halfway decent. Inside this book I found a beautiful, haunting, and, at moments, disturbing book that far exceeded my expectations. Oscar is a wonderful main character, steady but a little uncertain about his path in life, making his being pulled into the Bellwethers' circle so believable. The entire plot is well-structured and while never madly paced, it pulls you along and leaves you keenly interested in what Oscar's life will bring him next. The writing of this book is also beautiful and lyrical, clearly evoking both places and the feelings they provoke. At moments this novel reminded of both Brideshead Revisited and The Great Gatsby for some of its plot elements but the book is in no way a lesser version of either of these classics. A wonderful and lingering read. ( )
  MickyFine | Jan 13, 2015 |
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. ( )
1 vote 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 |
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:14 -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 4 descriptions

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