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Bellman and Black

by Diane Setterfield

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1,21416012,463 (3.26)93
Killing a bird with his slingshot as a boy, William Bellman grows up a wealthy family man unaware of how his act of childhood cruelty will have terrible consequences until a wrenching tragedy compels him to enter into a macabre bargain with a stranger in black.
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English (157)  Catalan (2)  Spanish (1)  All languages (160)
Showing 1-5 of 157 (next | show all)
This is kind of a strange book that I don't think will appeal to everyone who read 'The Thirteenth Tale.' It sort of feels like the difference between say the Brontes and Poe. On the surface, they seem similar, but underneath the are quite different. I only mention those as examples. Though one may find elements of earlier writers in this book, Setterfield has way of telling the story that can be no one's but hers. It's quite beautiful, though it takes the whole book to get to the point. ( )
  JessicaReadsThings | Dec 2, 2021 |
Disappointing ( )
  IngNorris | Oct 16, 2021 |
An excellent read all around! The characters are great, and the premise fresh and different. ( )
  MariaGreene | Jun 30, 2021 |
The cover and the blurb on the inside flap intrigued me to by this book. It had the sound of an unusual mystery. It turned out to not be what I expected, but it was an interesting read.

The story is of William Bellman and his life. An event from his childhood had a bearing on his life, but he didn’t know it.

Bellman was a hard worker who applied himself to anything he took on. This helped him to be successful in almost anything his whole life; personal and business.

He came from a low class level, but got a chance for a good job. Hard work, dedication and being a good learner took him to becoming the owner of the business.

He met a girl and was immediately taken with her and she with him A successful and happy marriage and family was the result, but an epidemic took all but one daughter.

During this down period he met a strange man dressed in black. Life was at a low point for Bellman, but after a conversation with the man, Bellman’s life took an upswing. It appears two have struck a bargain.

Over time, Bellman’s success is incredible but there is something in the back of his mind. He can’t quite remember any details of the conversations. There is nothing in writing regarding any contract.

The story is told in two voices; the narrator and a rook. The rook tells of life in the rook world — current and past. These are short, standalone sections. Some is history or legends and etymology These sections do tie into the story. The main theme is about thought and memory. How things in the past can have bearing on one later in life. How memory can be a factor in remembering these events and how they affect life.

A very interesting read. ( )
  ChazziFrazz | May 29, 2021 |
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review. This is one of those books where you feel vaguely unsettled the entire book and when it is over, you sit there for a minute and think, am I interpreting the ending correctly? Am I interpreting anything correctly? [a:Diane Setterfield|22665|Diane Setterfield|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1255913779p2/22665.jpg]'s sophomore book definitely kept me on the edge of my seat but I'm left with so many questions causing me to wonder if I missed something or if the book is really left open to as much interpretation as I'm doing. It's definitely worth the read, even if it's just to tell me I'm crazy and the ending is clear and I have no clue what I'm talking about. ( )
  Stacie-C | May 8, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 157 (next | show all)
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Information from the Russian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Epigraph
You will have seen rooks.
Don’t be put off by any sense of familiarity.
Rooks are enveloped in a glorious sky-cloak of mystery.
They’re not what you think they are.
— MARK COCKER, FROM CROW COUNTRY
Dedication
For my parents Pauline and Jeffrey Setterfield who, amongst other things, taught me everything I needed to know about catapults.
First words
I have heard it said, by those that cannot possibly know, that in the final moments of a man’s existence he sees his whole life pass before his eyes.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Killing a bird with his slingshot as a boy, William Bellman grows up a wealthy family man unaware of how his act of childhood cruelty will have terrible consequences until a wrenching tragedy compels him to enter into a macabre bargain with a stranger in black.

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Book description
Bellman & Black is a heart-thumpingly perfect ghost story, beautifully and irresistibly written, its ratcheting tension exquisitely calibrated line by line. Its hero is William Bellman, who, as a boy of 11, killed a shiny black rook with a catapult, and who grew up to be someone, his neighbours think, who "could go to the good or the bad." And indeed, although William Bellman's life at first seems blessed—he has a happy marriage to a beautiful woman, becomes father to a brood of bright, strong children, and thrives in business—one by one, people around him die. And at each funeral, he is startled to see a strange man in black, smiling at him. At first, the dead are distant relatives, but eventually his own children die, and then his wife, leaving behind only one child, his favourite, Dora. Unhinged by grief, William gets drunk and stumbles to his wife's fresh grave—and who should be there waiting, but the smiling stranger in black. The stranger has a proposition for William—a mysterious business called "Bellman & Black" . . . ---------------------------------------------As a boy, William Bellman commits one small cruel act that appears to have unforseen and terrible consequences. The killing of a rook with his catapult is soon forgotten amidst the riot of boyhood games. And by the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, he seems indeed, to be a man blessed by fortune. Until tragedy strikes, and the stranger in black comes, and William Bellman starts to wonder if all his happiness is about to be eclipsed. Desperate to save the one precious thing he has left, he enters into a bargain. A rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner, to found a decidedly macabre business. And Bellman & Black is born.
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