Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Bellfield Hall by Anna Dean
Bellfield hall (subtitle: Or, The Deductions of Miss Dido Kent) reminds me of Jane Austen. Or at least, Miss Dido reminds me of Jane Austen - an "old" intelligent spinster. The world the novel inhabits is very much like a Jane Austen novel, which means it's "gentle".
Well, except for the murder. The murder sounds gruesome, although there isn't any violence. Even the descriptions are fairly muted, including the time when they examined the corpse. Still, I think that Dido has what they call a "strong constitution", seeing that she dares to examine the body and whatnot.
The narrative style is also really interesting. Apart from using the conventional first person narrative, the novel also uses letters from Dido to her sister. I suspect that this is used to shorten the narrative, since the letter compresses the time frame a fair bit. And it works. The letters are gossipy and interesting, and manage to recap the important points and developements for the reader. I think that was partly the reason why my interest was sustained - the novel never felt draggy.
As for characters, Dido is really interesting. Her niece Catherine is also another engaging character (although there were a few moments when she was a bit brattish. But by the end of the book, she proves to be a very likable character) and I enjoyed reading about the both of them. They don't have very similar personalities, but they get along well, and it's fun to read about how dissimilar they are. There are quite a few moments when the book tethers into a "what a sweet child" mode, but nothing overly saccharine is actually written.
The other characters are average, and didn't really stand out. In a way, they felt like stock characters. One exception might be Catherine's fiancee Richard, but I didn't see enough of him to make an accurate judgement.
All in all, this is a very enjoyable book. Especially if you like Jane Austen :D