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Bleeding Heart Square by Andrew Taylor
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Bleeding Heart Square

by Andrew Taylor

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3987626,858 (3.69)73

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1930s (58)
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Lydia Langstone leaves her abusive husband and goes to live with her father at 7 Bleeding Heart Square. A strange place, the square has its own chapel and the house itself is home to a number of intriguing people. Lydia meets Rory Wentwood who is looking into the mysterious disappearance of Miss Penhow, the house's owner.

I liked this book more than I thought I would. For some reason I thought it was set in Victorian times which is not one of my favourite genres, but then realised it's actually set in the 1930s. There is a interesting side-story about the rise of the fascist party in that decade but the main story concerns Miss Penhow and what might have happened to her. It took a little while for me to get into the story because there's quite a lot going on and it became quite complicated but I soon became engrossed in it and I ended up really enjoying it.

It all came together well as the story progressed and the ending in particular was a surprise. There was some clever plotting involved. This is the first of Andrew Taylor's books that I have read but I would definitely read more. ( )
  nicx27 | Nov 20, 2014 |
I do like Andrew Taylor's books, but the best word to describe his style is probably 'meandering'. The tangled plot of Bleeding Heart Square did keep me interested, but getting to the reveal was hard going at times. The characters are well developed, from determined heroine Lydia to the skin-crawling Mr Serridge, and the atmosphere, as always with Taylor, is incredibly dark and claustrophobic. I also admire how the author wove such a Dickensian tale from real life, grounding his gothic adventure in modern history. Good, but slow. ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Jul 26, 2013 |
Andrew Taylor’s literary mystery is set in London in the early 1930's, in that uneasy period between the Great Wars.

Aristocrat Lydia Langstone leaves her violent husband and having no one else to turn to moves in with her ne'er-do-well drunken Father, Captain Ingleby-Lewis.

Their scruffy, lodging house at 7 Bleeding Heart Square used to be owned by a rich spinster Miss Phillipa Penhow but she has, apparently, gone to America after signing over the house to Joseph Serridge, a mysterious, menacing man. Miss Penhow has not been heard of in four years

Rory Wentworth, a struggling journalist wants to find out what happened to Ms Penhow, his soon to be ex fiancée is her niece. Rory turns out not to be alone in his suspicions about Joseph Serridge. A plain clothes policeman, Narton, is watching the house obsessively and strange parcels addressed to Major Serridge and containing rotting animal hearts begin arriving at the house.

The mysterious disappearance of Miss Penhow is the foundation of the novel but it is the strong writing, the almost Dickensian characters and the layer upon layer of subplots, all twisting and turning, till they become interlinked that keeps you turning the pages. The book has a menacing atmosphere throughout, with shady, shifty characters and a threat of violence, either real or perceived.

Intertwined with this is Miss Penhow's diary which is narrated to the reader by a persons unknown and you feel in turns sorry and then angry at this foolish, naive woman desperate for love.

The sense of period is superb and the author has important things to say about the privileged rich and their attitude towards the working class, rural Britain, the legacy of World War One, women’s place in society and the rise of the British Fascist party. The setting of a grim, cold London in the 30s and the gloomy oppressive nature of Bleeding heart Square itself gives the story a sinister,menacing tone.

I loved ‘plucky’ Lydia Langstone as the lady who is now ‘slumming’ it trying to make a new life for herself, her growing friendship with Rory Wentworth as he also moves into 7 Bleeding Heart Square, and her own part in unravelling the threads surrounding Miss Penhow's story. ( )
  jan.fleming | May 2, 2013 |
One of the best books I've ever read. I can't even recognise the critique offered by a number of other reviewers, let alone agree with them. The setting, place, time and characterisation were all spot-on, and I couldn't stop reading. Typical of Taylor's style, he writes with an almost detached air, slightly disconnected which seems to increase the narrative drive. I really didn't want this book to end. If you haven't done so already, then start reading this today.
© Koplowitz 2010 ( )
  Ant.Harrison | Apr 28, 2013 |
London, crime, murder, mystery, domestic abuse ( )
  sianpr | Feb 8, 2013 |
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2008 (UKCanada)
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Epigraph
... don't go of a night into Bleeding Heart Square, It's a dark, little, dirty, black, ill-looking yard, With queer people about ...

Extracted with modest modifications from 'The Housewarming!!: A Legend of Bleedingheart Yard' (The Revd Richard Harris Barham: The Ingoldsby Legends, or Mirth and Marvels, Third Series, 1847)
Dedication
For Ann and Christopher
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Sometimes you frighten yourself.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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It's 1934, and the decaying London cul-de-sac of Bleeding Heart Square is an unlikely place of refuge for aristocratic Lydia Langstone. But as she flees her abusive marriage there is only one person she can turn to--the genteelly derelict Captain Ingleby-Lewis, currently lodging at no 7. However, unknown to Lydia, a dark mystery haunts 7 Bleeding Heart Square. What happened to Miss Penhow, the middle-aged spinster who owns the house and who vanished four years earlier? Why is a seedy plain-clothes policeman obsessively watching the square? What is making struggling journalist Rory Wentwood so desperate to contact Miss Penhow? And why are parcels of rotting hearts being sent to Joseph Serridge, the last person to see Miss Penhow alive?… (more)

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Hyperion and Voice

2 editions of this book were published by Hyperion and Voice.

Editions: 1401302866, 1401310141

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