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Tom-All-Alone's by Lynn Shepherd
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Tom-All-Alone's (edition 2012)

by Lynn Shepherd

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3174535,016 (3.62)53
Member:LizzySiddal
Title:Tom-All-Alone's
Authors:Lynn Shepherd
Info:Corsair (2012), Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:fiction, crime, read 2012, C21, anglophone

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The Solitary House by Lynn Shepherd

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Solitary House -Lynne Shepherd
3 stars

Charles Maddox is a uniquely gifted young man who is struggling to establish himself as a private detective in a Dickensian London. It is not a setting in an 1850’s London similar to one that Dickens created. It is the London setting that Dickens depicted in his great novel Bleak House. Charles Maddox has been contacted by the infamous Chancery lawyer, Mr. Tulkinghorn. Possessing a photographic memory and a strong sense of justice (much like Sherlock Holmes), Charles is dangerously entrapped in the Tulkinghorn’s evil intrigues.

In direct imitation of Bleak House the book is told through two voices. The story of Charles Maddox’s investigation is told in the voice of an omniscient narrator who occasionally injects an all-knowing and condescending 21st century commentary (reminiscent of Faber’s Crimson Petal and the White.) The second story line is told in first person diary entries by a character named Hester. Throughout both of these narratives it becomes apparent that the characters and events of the Dickens’ novel are proceeding simultaneously. In addition to Mr. Tulkinghorn’s role as Charles Maddox’s employer, other Bleak House characters make cameo appearances and occasionally play key roles. One final plot twist borrows characters and content from Wilke Collins’ Woman in White.

I am usually a fan of books, plays or movies which draw their inspiration from earlier works. I love to look at the intellectual process that transforms ideas into new images that can provide a different perspective. That is what I’d hoped to find in this novel. I can’t fault Ms Shepard’s knowledge of 19th century literature. As the omniscient narrator she makes sure the reader is aware of her research:

“It is as if a switch has been flicked – an analogy which is at least thirty years away, incidentally, though the snap of a magic lantern will do almost as well”

“(Charles)…….betakes himself to the nearest suitable establishment, a Victorian version of fast food known by the wonderfully descriptive name of a slap-bang – you slap down the money, and they bang down the food.”


I have to admit that the intertwining plot lines are very clever and excepting the 21st century side commentary, the atmosphere of the period is maintained. However, Ms Shepard claims that Solitary House is meant as homage to Dickens. I cannot help remembering how appalled Dickens was by unauthorized versions of his works and how hard he fought for copy rights. For me, Solitary House did not work as pastiche, or farce or as reinvention. It simply felt too much like plagiarism.





( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
Powerful spin off novel from Dickens's Bleak House. This is very well written and shows a close eye for the minutiae of Victoria life, especially the seamy aspects. This book provides in effect a potential alternative interpretation of some of the events and characters in Dickens's classic novel, an interpretation which concerns themes of child abuse and exploitation and graphic Ripper-style killings, which Dickens would not have been able to have write for publication. There are also references to Wilkie Collins's Woman in White, which I have read but with the details of which I am rather less familiar. While I enjoyed the writing, it does leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth because of some of these themes and slightly besmirches my view of Bleak House itself - but it is a fascinating and well-executed literary exercise. ( )
  john257hopper | Jan 4, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I enjoyed this book, but then I'm a fan of Wilkie Collins. I thought Shepherd did a nice job conveying atmosphere without burying the reader in extraneous details. Like most of the fiction one reads nowadays, it isn't great literature, but it's interesting and it kept me reading. I don't remember thinking a single time that I was sorry I'd started the book or doubted that I'd finish it. I give top marks for anything that holds my interest to that degree, whatever the reason. If you like atmosphere and a good mystery, you'd probably enjoy this one. ( )
  BasilBlue | Jul 25, 2014 |
According to her Huffington Post aritcle here Dolores Umbridge under her pseudonym Lynn Shepherd has tried to discourage J.K. Rowling from continuing to venture into adult fiction.

 
She has also made her feelings known about the adult Harry Potter fandom... This was their response:
  a.happy.booker | Mar 14, 2014 |
Book Description
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Lynn Shepherd’s first acclaimed novel of historical suspense, Murder at Mansfield Park, brilliantly reimagined the time of Jane Austen. Now, in this spellbinding new triumph, she introduces an unforgettable duo of detectives into the gaslit world of Dickens.

London, 1850. Charles Maddox had been an up-and-coming officer for the Metropolitan police until a charge of insubordination abruptly ended his career. Now he works alone, struggling to eke out a living by tracking down criminals. Whenever he needs it, he has the help of his great-uncle Maddox, a legendary “thief taker,” a detective as brilliant and intuitive as they come.

On Charles’s latest case, he’ll need all the assistance he can get.

To his shock, Charles has been approached by Edward Tulkinghorn, the shadowy and feared attorney, who offers him a handsome price to do some sleuthing for a client. Powerful financier Sir Julius Cremorne has been receiving threatening letters, and Tulkinghorn wants Charles to—discreetly—find and stop whoever is responsible.

But what starts as a simple, open-and-shut case swiftly escalates into something bigger and much darker. As he cascades toward a collision with an unspeakable truth, Charles can only be aided so far by Maddox. The old man shows signs of forgetfulness and anger, symptoms of an age-related ailment that has yet to be named.

Intricately plotted and intellectually ambitious, The Solitary House is an ingenious novel that does more than spin an enthralling tale: it plumbs the mysteries of the human mind. ( )
  camtb | Oct 24, 2013 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lynn Shepherdprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cunningham, CarolineDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Daniels, TimCover photographsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Klynstra, LauraCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345532422, Hardcover)

Lynn Shepherd’s first acclaimed novel of historical suspense, Murder at Mansfield Park, brilliantly reimagined the time of Jane Austen. Now, in this spellbinding new triumph, she introduces an unforgettable duo of detectives into the gaslit world of Dickens.
 
London, 1850. Charles Maddox had been an up-and-coming officer for the Metropolitan police until a charge of insubordination abruptly ended his career. Now he works alone, struggling to eke out a living by tracking down criminals. Whenever he needs it, he has the help of his great-uncle Maddox, a legendary “thief taker,” a detective as brilliant and intuitive as they come.
 
On Charles’s latest case, he’ll need all the assistance he can get.
 
To his shock, Charles has been approached by Edward Tulkinghorn, the shadowy and feared attorney, who offers him a handsome price to do some sleuthing for a client. Powerful financier Sir Julius Cremorne has been receiving threatening letters, and Tulkinghorn wants Charles to—discreetly—find and stop whoever is responsible.
 
But what starts as a simple, open-and-shut case swiftly escalates into something bigger and much darker. As he cascades toward a collision with an unspeakable truth, Charles can only be aided so far by Maddox. The old man shows signs of forgetfulness and anger, symptoms of an age-related ailment that has yet to be named.
 
Intricately plotted and intellectually ambitious, The Solitary House is an ingenious novel that does more than spin an enthralling tale: it plumbs the mysteries of the human mind.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:50 -0400)

Summoned to the offices of Victorian London's most powerful and dangerous solicitors, disgraced police officer turned independent detective Charles Maddox turns to his famous but aging investigator uncle to identify who has been sending threatening letters to a client.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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