Read Bellman & Black: A Ghost Story by Diane Setterfield Online


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 10, 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 WilliamBellman & 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 10, 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" . . ....

Title : Bellman & Black: A Ghost Story
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781409128014
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Bellman & Black: A Ghost Story Reviews

  • Jeanette
    2019-02-19 21:54

    If you loved The Thirteenth Tale, as I did, Bellman and Black will feel like it wasn't even written by the same author. I stayed with it through page 161. That's over half the book, so I gave it a fair shot, and way more of my time than it deserved. What is the stinking point of the story? Nothing happens. A lot of people die, but Setterfield doesn't make you care about them. If you want to read a boring novel about the textile industry, this is exactly the book you've been waiting for.

  • Leanne
    2019-02-19 21:59

    The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield's first novel, was released in 2006 and was, in my opinion, fantastic. In the following years, as I do with all newly discovered favourite authors, I kept a close eye out for any news regarding upcoming novels. Every few months, I would hopefully Google "Diane Setterfield 2nd novel" and little would come up. And so, I've had 7 years (7 years! Not as bad as Donna Tartt's every-10-years record, and on par with Marisha Pessl, but still!) to anticipate and hype up Setterfield's 2nd novel in my mind.And Bellman & Black, while by no means a failure, was unquestionably a disappointment to me. It began beautifully, with a haunting prologue that foreshadows dire events to come. The basic plot of the novel is well explained in the blurb - at a young age, William kills a bird in the midst of childhood play, and puts it out of his mind - until later, when he is settled into domestic life, tragedy strikes. He starts seeing a mysterious stranger, who eventually gives him the idea for a potentially lucrative new business.Part of the problem may have been its short length - I am always more inclined to love long, layered, fleshed out stories. But parts of it just dragged - and when the number of pages are so limited, this shouldn't be an issue. How many times can we read about the inner workings of a mill, and then later the shop? How many times is it repeated that every business endeavor Bellman touches turns to gold, that every problem there is, Bellman has a solution for? Despite the occasionally repetitive nature, the book is still well written, and very atmospheric. As soon as the stranger in black shows up, you can feel the slow decline of Bellman's fortune, the lonliness, the cold detachment from any personal connections. I found the resolution to be ultimately unsatisying - (view spoiler)[I still don't quite understand exactly who Black was, and what the deal actually was. And Bellman never found any sort of happiness in the end, never reconciled properly with his poor daughter. (hide spoiler)] but it's possible some of it just went right over my head. Maybe some light can be shed once others have read it!In the end, it's an interesting little gothic tale with an excellent opening and some cleverly phrased life lessons - and I did learn an awful lot of interesting tidbits about rooks. But was it worth the 7-year wait? Personally, I don't think so.Received through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  • Travelling Sunny
    2019-02-12 16:04

    A Ghost Story. Pffttt! A ghost story my ass. How did that even get IN the title here? Because, it's not ANYWHERE in my book. Not on the cover. Not on the title page. Nowhere. It's Bellman & Black, A Novel. Full stop. No mention of 'A Ghost Story'. Anywhere.I feel so cheated.Imagine me, a grown woman, throwing myself onto the floor, kicking my feet, pounding my fists, and screaming in frustration. That just about perfectly describes the tantrum I envisioned myself having at the end. Because, I really, REALLY liked The Thirteenth Tale, and this was a total disappointment. C'est la vie. They can't all be winners, I suppose.I have friends who absolutely refuse to continue with a book if they haven't been 'hooked' within the first 50 pages. So, I obviously won't be recommending THIS to them... since the whole thing was RIDICULOUSLY BORING!*sigh*

  • Rob Slaven
    2019-02-11 15:02

    As usual, I received this book not through actually purchasing it but because someone gave it to me for review. In this case the book came from a galley giveaway on ShelfAwareness. Despite that kind consideration I'm still not afraid to roast even a free book with a scathing review. Luckily in this case, no such conflagration is necessary.Firstly, it should be noted that I religiously avoid reading the back jackets of books, so going into this one I had only the cover and the subtitle "A ghost story" to go on. Because of that I spent a fair amount of time looking for the literal ghost only to find that the ghosts that haunt William Bellman are of a completely different sort than one generally expects from children's literature.On the positive side of things, this book is a deliciously subtle story of one man's haunted life. Setterfield weaves her story and her characters together with a sagacious and haunting assiduousness that pulls the reader gently along from one short chapter to the next. This is an acutely wrought novel with a tenacious grip on realism while still washing the entire scene in an afterglow of the supernatural. I've not read anything this well written in quite some time. Our author brings us a tale as unhurried and as natural as life itself. The only real negative I can put forth is really more of a warning to potential readers. This is a great book but it's likely not for everyone. For those accustomed to the pablum of easy modern literature, I suggest humbly that you look elsewhere. For those reading by the pool in the joyous light of day, perhaps your time is better spent between other pages. But if you find yourself in a darkened room listening to the rumble of far-away thunder, then this may be the book for just that setting. It is not a gripping thrill ride, but it does take you gently by the hand and pull you quietly into another world where the sky harbors a thousand watching eyes and time does not undo all wrongs nor heal all wrongs.-- Rob SlavenFacebook:

  • Babybook
    2019-02-20 17:14

    Neobična knjiga ali samo to i ništa više

  • Nancy Oakes
    2019-01-27 18:10

    To put it rather bluntly, this book is not very popular among fans of Diane Setterfield's previous novel, The Thirteenth Tale, who I suppose wanted something more along the same lines in her new novel, Bellman and Black and didn't get it. I sort of feel like one of the lone holdouts -- I actually liked this book. Then again, I went into it without any expectations: even though I also liked The Thirteenth Tale, I wasn't expecting this one to be a carbon copy. I still don't understand why people come unglued when a particular favorite author goes off in a different way than in previous books -- as I've said so many times, it's very unfair and limiting to the writer when readers tend to expect the same thing over and over again. Set in the Victorian era, as a boy of ten, William Bellman, his cousin Charles and their friend Luke were hanging out on a summer day, and Will tells the others he can hit a bird that was in a tree "half a field away." He had fashioned a perfect slingshot, picked the perfect stone, and launched it, hitting a black bird against all odds. The other boys were impressed; Will was "sick at heart, proud, abashed, guilty." On his way home he glances back to where the bird had fallen and notices a congregation of rooks, all looking in his direction, and he also thinks he sees a boy dressed all in black. He's obviously haunted by what he's done, and while he spends a half week in bed with a fever, he starts to apply what the author calls "his ten year old genius and power" to "forgetting." William's adult life starts out promising -- he is helping his uncle at the family's textile mill and comes up with a number of measures to make the mill more productive and lucrative. He falls in love, marries just the right woman, and has beautiful children -- the perfect life, one others are either envious or proud of. Yet, it's not long until he is faced with several deaths, and at each funeral, he thinks he sees a man all dressed in black. William throws himself into his work rather than deal with his grief; when tragedy strikes and he loses of all of his family members but one, he makes a "deal" with the man in black for the recovery of his dying daughter. William then moves to London and branches out into a new career with death as its centerpiece, and again applies his magical touch, throwing himself body and soul into his work, making it a successful enterprise. And all along he's waiting for "Mr. Black" to return and collect what he's owed.If you look at the title of this book on Goodreads it is Bellman and Black: A Ghost Story (which is btw, NOT the title on the hardcover copy I bought) and somehow word has gotten out that it is just that, a ghost story. If you read it very carefully, though (and without wrecking the story for others who might wish to read it), you have to make up your own mind -- in some ways, it reminded me very much of Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger, which also requires that the reader really examine the "supernatural" events that occur. What I see here is a study of a man who has excelled in forgetting, keeping his grief buried, and who has tried to carry on while unable or unwilling to mourn the tragedies of his life just to function. Seen in that light, this very much character-based story really works for me, explaining a lot of the ambiguities that follow throughout the novel. I will say that while the book is highly atmospheric, William's character may seem to some readers to come off as flat. He is anything but -- his drive, his inner thoughts and his actions all point to a man in a great amount of pain. It's all in how you read it.Lots of readers have commented on "lack of plot," but again, this is a character-driven novel so the interest lies in trying to fathom what's going on inside of William. I really don't get why people are so negative in their comments about this novel -- I found it highly unsettling and mysterious, haunting, but at the same time the horror here is completely on the subtle side until right at the end when all is made known. Frankly, I couldn't put it down. So what I didn't exactly care about were the rooks-eye scenes; while I get why they were there, they were often a little distracting. Otherwise, it's one I can definitely recommend, and one I'm definitely going to revisit.

  • Dem
    2019-01-25 14:06

    2.5 starsBellman and Black is the long awaited novel from Diane Setterfield and like others I could not wait to get my hands on this gothic story.I love the title of this novel and the cover as it gives a mysterious quality to the book before the reader even begins the story.As a child William Bellman while out playing with his friends commits one small cruel act killing a bird with his slingshot. Little does he know that this action will bring on consequences in his adult life that he will have little control over or will he? William grows up and through hard work makes a fortune and becomes someone with power but when rock bottom hits in his personal life he enters into a rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partnerand Bellman & Black is born. The story is interesting and the characters of Bellman and Black hold the reader's fascination throughout the story. However the plot is thin and the story has very little other interesting characters and I found myself wishing there was a strong or even an interesting female character in the story. There are female characters but they are not well fleshed out. The story is dark and a little eerie but not enough to scare or make this book memorable.I found it difficult to place this story in a time frame as there is very little reference to dates or actual happenings and I found myself constantly trying to tie the story to a year. I like background information in a story as I really think it enhances the plot although I am sure the author has her reasons for the way this story is told.Having loved Setterfield'sI was expecting a story as intriguing that would leave me with the same satisfied feeling on finishing the novel but I am afraid this was not the case with this book.An ok read and easy read but not riveting for me. My thanks to Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book.

  • Robert
    2019-02-16 18:58

    I’d have to say it’s rather difficult to describe my emotional state after finishing BELLMAN & BLACK: A GHOST STORY. On the one hand, this was a well-written, slowly developing story that caused me to contemplate the consequences of all my actions, not just the major, life changing experiences; on the other, it did have ghostly elements, but when I picture a ghost story, this isn’t exactly what I have in mind. It’s more of a literary ghost story where you realize the ghosts are there, but they hover above the playing field and never really step out onto the grass. It also develops this phrase in narrative form: Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it. Which proves an interesting expression to ponder for a novel, but I never felt like I was fully invested in this tale.The dialogue proved a bit pretentious for me with many characters never really becoming enamored with contractions. While William Bellman was certainly an interesting and intriguing character, he never grabbed my attention the way I hoped he would. He was stiff and aloof and more than a tad bit prickly, rigid, and distant. And the pace often proved a bit too leisurely for my tastes. It was more of a meandering jaunt in a field of lilies than a race in an open field. But the writing often sung a soprano solo in the middle of December, I just found myself only half-listening.In the end, I wanted to enjoy this story, and even though I tried a bit too hard at times to do so, ultimately I just wasn’t the right audience. Since I received THE THIRTEENTH TALE in my Bouchercon book bag, I’ll take it for a spin on the merry-go-round, but I’ll do so with a bit more careful consideration. I received this book for free through NetGalley.Cross-posted at Robert's Reads

  • Virginie
    2019-01-27 18:11

    I have been eagerly waiting for a second book by Setterfield, hope it will be as engrossing as the first one!

  • Blair
    2019-02-02 19:17

    English author Diane Setterfield's debut novel, The Thirteenth Tale, was a big seller in America, reaching #1 in the charts. I didn't actually know this when I read it: I happened upon it at the library, thought it sounded like my kind of thing, and really enjoyed reading it, although I didn't find it particularly remarkable. Subsequently finding out about Setterfield's huge success in the US made me more interested in the author's next move than I probably would have been otherwise, and when I discovered her second novel would be a ghost story, my interest heightened even further. Now, seven years on from the original publication of The Thirteenth Tale, Bellman & Black is finally here - scheduled for release in October in the UK, and November in the US.Being a lover of ghost stories - and considering the easy readability of The Thirteenth Tale - I was anticipating the sort of book I would race through in a day or two and wouldn't want to put down. In fact, Bellman & Black gets off to a very slow start and never really picks up. We first meet the protagonist, William Bellman, as a boy: playing with his cousin and two friends, he hits and kills a rook with his catapult. Unbeknownst to him, this childish act is a mistake that will cast a shadow over his life well into adulthood. The narrative steps forward a few years, and we encounter William again as a young man, seemingly in possession of everything he could want in life: he is handsome, charming and, when he joins the family mill, he becomes very successful. The reader knows dark things are coming: this is, after all (and as the subtitle tells us), a ghost story. That being the case - and also considering the fact that the book is called Bellman & Black! - it takes a remarkably long time for true tragedy to befall William and for the mysterious character of Black to make a proper appearance. It isn't until halfway through the book that the key events described in the blurb, the 'bargain' with Black and the creation of the eponymous business, take place - and even after that there's not a lot of action. I expected this book to be various things, but 'boring' wasn't one of them. Unfortunately, although I thought it was well-written and I can't say I wasn't intrigued by the themes, that was my overall reaction. I never warmed to William or Dora, and was left wondering, what was the point? It's not that I thought this (or any) story should have a specific purpose, necessarily, but I didn't care about the characters and I couldn't see any underlying moral or theme (other than don't do anything to piss off a rook when you're a kid, because it'll ruin the rest of your life...?) so it really needed something else to drive it forward, and there was just nothing there. I felt like I was constantly waiting for (view spoiler)[Black to reappear, which he didn't until the very end, and then - what? William has to remember his past? That isn't a ghost story, nor is it particularly terrifying in any way, that's just life! (hide spoiler)] Things kept happening that seemed promising - (view spoiler)[the introduction of Lizzie as a character who seemed to know something more than she should, William's apparent sighting of her with Black (hide spoiler)] - and then they came to nothing.I've given Bellman & Black a rating of three stars because I can't really see any reason to give it less: I didn't actually dislike it, and I enjoyed the style - Setterfield does a good job of creating a narrative that feels authentically 'historical' rather than a pastiche, and this story is far less clichéd than her debut - but there was just nothing that great about it. I applaud Setterfield for doing something different rather than just writing a rehash of The Thirteenth Tale, but sadly, it didn't really work for me, and I would be surprised if many fans of her first book enjoy this one as much.When I read short ghost stories, or novellas within the genre - Susan Hill's Dolly springs to mind as a recent example - I often feel frustrated that they aren't longer, more fleshed out and properly detailed. This is the opposite: stripped back to the basics it would make a fantastic short story, but there is simply not enough substance here to make it worthy of more than 300 pages. While Bellman & Black was by no means a terrible book, I'm reluctant to recommend it to either fans of The Thirteenth Tale or lovers of ghost stories.

  • Patrice Hoffman
    2019-01-31 17:55

    I don't remember being any more conflicted with a review rating as I am with Diane Setterfield's latest Bellman & Black. On one hand it's beautifully written and on the other, I just felt so hollow inside upon finishing it. After reading rave reviews for her bestsellerThe Thirteenth Tale I may have set the bar too high but... where can you go wrong when the word Ghost is a part of its title?William Bellman is 11 when the story begins and progresses with him as an adult. Everything about Bellman appears normal. He's a successful businessman, neither nice or mean, and appears to have a rather good life. All is well besides the fact that one by one people begin to die around him. At first the deaths are at all implausible, but after seeing a man in black at each funeral, could there be something else entirely at play?Diane Setterfield's voice inBellman & Black flows evenly and is quite absorbing. The story feels as if someone is speaking directly to me in recounting a man's whole life and how he became haunted after killing a rook as a child. Setterfield makes it almost impossible to not want to read further.My main issues for this literary novel mainly stem from how flat I found the character Bellman to be. He's even described by other townsfolk to be a man who could go either way. Because of his flatness, I almost missed where his decline into madness began to take shape. This is not from unclear writing but rather I didn't really care anymore. His daughter Dora seemed a lot more compelling. Most times when someone reads a ghost story the element of suspense should be present. There is never a strong sense of tension. At the least there should be one mangled hand reaching from the mill dye scaring the pants off of one character. Sadly...that's never the case with this title. Oh how I missed the running then falling scene. Overall I'm interested in reading more by Diane Setterfield and will read The Thirteenth Tale although I am conflicted with my feelings toward Bellman & Black. I only hope the next book I read that says it's a ghost story will actually be that, a ghost story. copy provided by Netgalley

  • Nikoleta
    2019-02-08 16:00

    «Το κοράκι ξέρει καλά να επιβιώνει. Είναι πανάρχαιο πουλί· κατοικούσε στον πλανήτη πριν από τους ανθρώπους. Αυτό μπορεί κανείς να το αντιληφθεί από τη φωνή του· είναι σκληρή και βραχνή, φτιαγμένη από ένα παλαιότερο κόσμο, που υπήρχε προτού ανακαλυφθούν ο αυλός, το λαούτο, η βιόλα. Πριν επινοηθεί η μουσική, ο πλανήτης έμαθε στο κοράκι να τραγουδάει. Κι αυτό μιμήθηκε το δυνατό βουητό της θάλασσας, την τρομακτική έκρηξη των ηφαιστείων, το τρίξιμο των παγετώνων, το γεωλογικό βογκητό καθώς ο κόσμος χωριζόταν στα δυο και ξαναφτιαχνόταν.»Σελ. 83.3,5/5 αστεράκια

  • Phrynne
    2019-01-28 19:08

    I had read the reviews for this and was aware that many people did not like it so I started in with fear and trepidation. All unfounded because I really enjoyed it! It took a while to get into the story but by the second half I was completely engrossed and had to keep reading to the end. I loved the parallel chapters featuring the ravens and the little comments about the different names for a group of them. And the clever little paragraph at the end where we discover what ravens call a group of humans. It certainly is not an action packed book but rather a well written tale with some nice spooky stuff about birds and Mr Black. I liked it!

  • Morana Mazor
    2019-02-16 16:11

    Pročitala sam prije nekog vremena ovu knjigu, ali nikako da "sredim dojmove" i napišem svoj doživljaj iste, ali sada ću pokušati... Poprilično čudna knjiga.. ali, da krenem od početka. Prvo, moram reći da sam se jako razveselila kada sam vidjela da je Diane Setterfield (nakon cca. 10.god.) objavila nešto novo; naime, njezin roman "Trinaesta priča" (prema kojem je, 2013.god. snimljen i istoimeni film) mi se prilično svidio pa sam baš željela pročitati i njezin novi uradak.Ali, ovo je nešto potpuno drugačije.. To odmah napominjem jer znam da su mnogi dijelili moje oduševljenje Trinaestom pričom kada sam pisala osvrt (imamo ga i ovdje na blogu); dakle, vi koji ste čitali ne očekujte ništa nalik tome. Osim, naravno, stila pisanja same autorice koji je i ovdje zadržao onu ugodnu, pripovjedačku notu. "Bellman & Black" je jedna mračna, atmosferična priča smještena u doba viktorijanske Engleske, pomalo u stilu E. A. Poea posebice jer obiluje gačcima.. A gačci su velike, crne ptice iz porodice gavrana. Priča počinje doživljajem iz djetinjstva glavnog junaka, Williama Bellmana, kada on svojom praćkom ubija jednu iz jata tih crnih ptica.Gačcima se inače, prema mitologiji, pripisuju razna svojstva, između ostalog (možda zbog njihovog dugog životnog vijeka) naziva ih se "pripovjedačima", a i smatra ih se pticama koje mogu letjeti između svjetova, pa je tako gačac pratioc duše umrlih: "..Ono što predstavlja prepreku ljudima, nije prepreka za gačca. ...To je razlog zašto gačac prati duše umrlih... do mjesta na kojem vam zrak nije potreban, a suša nije problem. Nakon što ondje ostavi dušu koja je napustila tijelo, vraća se ovamo, kroz druge svjetove..." Ovo je samo jedna od niza crtica o gačcima koje se provlače kroz knjigu u kojoj pratimo život Williama Bellmana koji je, inače, vrlo brzo zaboravio gore spomenuti doživljaj. Mada, čini se, gačci to nisu zaboravili tek tako.. William je uspješan mladi čovjek koji zna što hoće, vrijedno radi, zasniva mnogobrojnu obitelj sa ženom koju voli te je omiljen među svojim sumještanima. Ipak, kako to već i bude u knjigama (ali, nažalost i u životu) gotovo preko noći zadesi ga niz nesreća i njegov se život iz temelja mijenja. U tim trenucima, da bi spasio ono najvrijednije što mu je preostalo, William sklapa nagodbu s tajanstvenim strancem koji je uvijek obučen u crno, čijeg se imena ne može sjetiti, a kojeg već godinama povremeno viđa i to samo na sprovodima. I ta je nagodba sklopljena na groblju, jedne olujne noći, a iz toga nastaje, za ono doba, gotovo neviđen poslovni pothvat- "Bellman & Black"; velebna trgovina u kojoj možete nabaviti sve za slučaj smrti, od najrazličitijih nijansi crnog konca za izradu odjeće za sve faze žalovanja preko crnih konja i kočija pa do nadgrobnih spomenika i ljesova. Dakle, William Bellman kroz život prolazi potpuno zaokupljen poslom; svaki trenutak u danu pomno mu je isplaniran, ništa ne prepušta slučaju i za svaki problem tu je i rješenje: "Postojao je jedan dio Bellmanova mozga koji se automatski palio i rješavao problem. Je li to bila navika, nešto u čemu se izvještio ili naprosto karakteristika s kojom je rođen, nije mogao reći... Zapravo, bio je tako brz da bi ponekad ponudio rješenje prije nego što je William uopće shvatio da postoji problem." I tako, tijekom vremena koje ide, nezaustavljivo leti, i života koji, gotovo neprimjetno, prolazi pokraj njega i Bellman se, naposljetku suočava s problemom za koji ne nalazi rješenje, a to je nemogućnost susret s tajanstvenim strancem, kojega je, budući da mu se ne može sjetiti imena, nazvao "Mr. Black." Što je sve Bellman radio i kroz što je sve prolazio ne bi li pronašao Mr. Blacka; kada ga je i kako, na kraju susreo i što mu je ovaj rekao vidjeti ćete, ako pročitate knjigu koja je, mogli bi reći, jedna velika metafora o životu i njegovoj prolaznosti i koja bi, po meni, bila idealna kao tema čitalačkih klubova.Idealna stoga što bi bilo jako zanimljivo čuti što tko misli o cijeloj priči i gačcima koji "lete" kroz nju; što gačci predstavljaju; tko je kako doživio koji lik npr. ne znam da li uopće postoji neka "glavna" definicija tko je u stvari Mr. Black ili nam je, možda, autorica dala slobodu da priču i likove interpretiramo svatko na svoj način.Naravno, o svakoj se knjizi može (više ili manje) diskutirati jer svatko od nas likove i priče doživljava drugačije , ali mislim da kod malo koje knjige postoji ovoliko "slobodnog prostora" za interpretaciju kao kod "Bellman & Black".I to je, za mene, možda čak i ono po čemu se ova knjiga ističe i po čemu ću je pamtiti jer nije da me inače nešto oduševila kao što me (neke) knjige oduševe pa vam ih onda ovdje, od srca, hvalim i preporučujem.Sami odlučite da li ćete je čitati (i družiti se s gačcima), ali, ako to učinite onda se svakako javite pa da malo zajedno komentiramo sve to skupa jer, kao što sam već napisala, mislim da bi to mogla biti jedna jako zanimljiva i kvalitetna rasprava o životu i smrti (i svemu između), a koju je potaknuo roman "Bellman & Black."

  • Helen
    2019-02-14 19:58

    I thoroughly enjoyed the Thirteenth Tale for several reasons but what struck me most about it was, simply, its wonderful, old-fashioned story-telling. It seems a perversely difficult thing to find in a book! (Zafon, for example, has it in truck loads). It's that little something that makes you want to crawl into a hiding place and stay there, undisturbed, until the book is finished.Bellman and Black has this quality too; even while I was enjoying the sights of Vienna, the book was calling me - come, read one more chapter, just one more...The story has been touched on by other reviewers so I won't go over it again except to say what a fantastic character Diane created with William Bellman and how well we knew him by the end. She also gives some interesting ideas about time and how we can manipulate it into creating more. As I'm as busy as the next; I'm always on the lookout for tips on that. All I can say is I hope the gap between the 2nd and 3rd novel won't be as long as the wait for this one.

  • Gerri Leen
    2019-01-23 17:17

    I got 54% of the way through this before I said enough. I know this because this is the first book I've read on my new Kindle and the Kindle tells me how far I got. Being the inaugural Kindle book is the only memorable thing about this.I loved The Thirteenth Tale so I really wanted to love this. And I should have loved a book this full of rooks (I'm a huge corvid fan). But I could not buy into the protagonist. He was, well, unbelievable in so many ways. Not solely because the way he is referred to goes from William to Bellman (an odd thing in the POV--but it's an odd POV to begin with, more narrator/omniscient then solidly third person), but because I don't believe anyone could be so histrionic and dramatic at some points and so unresponsive in others. It just didn't ring true to me that he would launch this big venture in the second part when the events that prompted it were so summarily and almost emotionlessly reported. (I'm trying not to spoil.) And his memory issues. Seriously? I can't buy it. I wanted to bitch-slap him by the point I bailed.Also, and it pains me to say this, the rook thing was overdone. If one more rook showed up to be innocently/ominously a witness or otherwise engage in the story, I was going to scream. And I love crows. I do. But man, restraint: it's not just for bondage.

  • Tania
    2019-02-15 14:54

    Beautifully written, but I struggled to connect with any of the characters. I could not feel happy or sad for them. I actually liked the first quarter of the book, but then the story just became flat. I felt no tension building towards the conclusion, and was left wondering, so what?I am in no doubt that the author can write wonderful books, and I was captivated by her previous novel. Unfortunately this one missed the mark for me.The story: 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.

  • Maria Chnoic
    2019-02-12 21:58

    Simply put this is a tale of a man's life set in Victorian times. The man, William, has an almost preternatural knack and foresight for business and thrives and leads a good life. Like all lives, there is some sadness and regret, particularly over an incident in his childhood when he killed a rook. Halfway through though (his life and our story) tragedy strikes. This changes everything the nature of his life and the nature his new business. The second half of the story may be about madness, a haunting or something else…Setterfield tells William’s story in a normal third person narrative but interspersed among the number chapters are small sections simply marked &(ampersand) where we are instructed in the nature and legends of Rooks. Notably, as the ampersand connects Bellman & Black but is not part of them, the ampersands will connect the story without becoming directly part of it. Overall I really enjoyed this somewhat dark yet beautiful tale. I was already a fan of Setterfield's prose from The Thirteenth Tale and fell quite easily into the reading of this. Her research into Death Practices and Rituals of the Victorian are not only well done but I suspect one of the inspirations for this book. However, it is her insights into life, not death that is lovely as seen in the quote below. “He had rediscovered the spaces in between words and tasks and thoughts, and they were surprisingly fruitful.”Overall, this would be recommended for lovers of the slightly darker Victorian fiction. But be warned this is not a melodramatic gothic tale similar to Setterfield's previous novel The Thirteenth tale. It is far more eyrie, simple yet quietly beautiful tale.

  • Sam Quixote
    2019-01-23 20:00

    Bellman & Black wasn’t just the worst novel I’ve read all year (and I’ve read some humdingers this year!) but it’s down there amongst the worst novels I’ve ever had the misfortune to read. The pathetic story (I can’t put enough quotation marks around that word so I won’t try) is about a Victorian entrepreneur called William Bellman who makes his mill a success and then sets up a successful funeral shop called Bellman & Black in London. I shit you not, that is 97% of the book! Some 300 pages devoted to how a fucking MILL and funeral parlour works! Bah! That load of toss got published. 300+ pages of nothing - NOTHING! It’s not even an intriguing character study, Bellman’s just a bland businessman who’s good at what he does. It’s beyond frustrating to read. Diane Setterfield makes Henry James’ novels look like goddamn thrillers in comparison! Bellman encounters some tragedy when his wife and kids die from disease, except for his daughter Dora. There’s a mysterious figure called Black that everyone reading instantly knows is Death, whom Bellman makes a deal with to spare Dora’s life. There are also tedious mentions throughout for the various collective nouns of rooks. That’s all the stuff that isn’t to do with how the mill or funeral parlour operates. No story, nothing of consequence happening, just Bellman building up one business and then another. Guys, if you’re writing something and have any doubts as to whether it’s any good, I point in the direction of Bellman & Black - if this drivel can get published, anybody’s can! I bitterly learned that just because I’m pre-approved for a book on Netgalley that I don’t then have to click accept! I’ll never read another thing by Diane Setterfield. There’s a noun for this skull-ringingly boring novel: GARBAGE!

    2019-01-31 21:00

    I knew from the book's synopsis that a pivotal moment in William Bellman's life was the day he killed a rook with a rock and catapult. This hardly seems like a momentous occasion, but this childhood incident weaves a mysterious and macabre thread throughout the book.Set in early Victorian England, this story centers around the local Bellman Mill. William Bellman begins life with the handicap of being born of scandal. His father married beneath his family's station in life, and was shunned thereafter. Isolated from his family and not allowed to work at the mill, he abandoned his wife and young son William, never to return. However, young, enthusiastic William never seems down-trodden by his lot in life. He's eventually recruited to work at the mill by his Uncle Paul. Paul Bellman's own son and heir Charles lives abroad and has no interest in the business. It soon becomes apparent that William has a fine aptitude for business, taking on more and more responsibility at the mill.Life seems to have smiled upon the likes of William Bellman as success in work and family colors each day. However, in a deliciously gradual decline, life takes a turn for the worse and that's where "Black" comes into the picture. William Bellman's business triumphs culminate in a brand new business created with "Black," born in the darkness of a cemetery, in the aftermath of personal tragedies. This new "deal" drives every waking moment of William's life.Interspersed throughout the book at unexpected moments appear facts about rooks. Rooks are a special kind of black crow that have a long memory, lots of stories to tell, and are said to accompany one's soul as it "crosses over." This is an exquisitely written tale that is unique and totally engaging....a real page turner!

  • Mary
    2019-02-10 16:05

    I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.Real rating: 1.5I’m really conflicted about this book. Writing wise, there’s absolutely, positively nothing wrong about this book. I liked the author's other book The Thirteenth Tale too.This is a major case of “It’s not you, it’s me.” To be honest, I skimmed the last 30% of this book, and I really can’t say much of what happened because I did not care.This book follows William Bellman, who accidentally kills a rook (crow, for those of you, like me, who only use the word rook in chess) when he’s little. Crows essentially remember this and proceed to kill everyone and then he makes a deal with someone and then I stopped caring. Really, it’s not this book’s fault. I’m just not the audience for this. I read the word “ghost” in the summary and perked up. I like ghosts. Who doesn’t like ghosts? I love ghost stories more than anything because ghosts are these paranormal beings that get away with a lot of shit. This is not a ghost story. This is a character study. Which is fine. If you like character studies, read this book. It’s a great book for people who like character studies.I don’t. I hate them. This book spends a majority of the time detailing Bellman’s work at the mill and how good he is, all the calculations he runs in his head, what he does to keep the grief away. I don’t care. Who cares about the mill and the work? I want to see these crows go crazy on Bellman! I want to see them sneakily assassinating everyone and killing all hope and love and being evil.That’s a creepy ass bird that will literally alter their flight routes if one of their group is killed. I’m not joking. Crows can remember faces. They can stalk. This story should be one of the creepiest things ever.It’s not. It’s a lot about Bellman at the mill. Entire chapters of him at the mill, his wife’s death? Hardly mentioned. Suddenly you’re at her funeral.But the major problem with this book is that I hated the writing style. It was like if Edgar Allan Poe wrote sober. It lacked passion. You never connected with the characters. The prologue told you that everyone was going to die.WHAT?!?!Authors, please listen to me, if you tell me the ending of your book in the prologue, your book lacks all the bite. Yeah, we can read to find out what happens, but the surprise is gone. The tension is gone. I KNOW THEY DIE!But even with that, the way it’s written just seems too…nonchalant. “Bellman went here and they died” sort of thing. Like I said, the writing just lacks passion. You can’t connect with Bellman because the style doesn’t allow it. So I guess, now that I’m thinking about it, this book doesn’t even work as a character study. If you can’t connect with the characters, then I just don’t see how this book is going to work for people who do like character studies. There’s very little in the way of plot. The characters are boring, Dora’s the only one who manages to be interesting. The only thing this book has going for it is very lyrical writing. And lots and lots about how Bellman is a really great mill worker and manager and everything he does is brilliant. I just got this feeling that the author cared either very little about this or far too much. She was trying to follow writing styles of Poe and Shelley but forgoes character and plot. If solid writing is enough to get you interested, then by all means read this book. If it’s not, I’d avoid it. But if you’re looking for an old fashioned ghost story with passionate writing, check out any of Edgar Allan Poe’s writing, and Frankenstein will give you plot and wonderful characters with the same writing style.

  • Jane
    2019-01-27 19:12

    I fell in love with Diane Setterfield’s first novel – ‘The Thirteenth Tale’ –and when a second novel with an intriguing title appeared after a long wait, my expectations soared. Maybe they went too high because, although I found some things to love, in the end I was disappointed.A prologue set the story up beautifully. A group of boys, out playing in the countryside. One has a catapult, he sees a bird, he takes a shot, and the bird falls. Dead. He moved on, he quickly forgot, but at that moment a shadow was cast over his life.The senses of foreboding was there from the start, and it was reinforced the recurring images of ravens, and the occasional sighting of a shadowy figure …The story that follows is built on classic lines. A young man, from humble beginnings, rises in the world. He applies himself, he seizes every opportunity, to achieve his ambitions. And fortune seemed to favour him; obstacles were swept from his path. But at the pinnacle of his success, tragedy strikes. He tries to rise above it. He strikes a bargain, he enters into a partnership, and he sets out on a new path. But he loses sight of what really matters, and that, eventually, causes his downfall.It’s a fine story, and Diane Setterfield tells it well, her style matching her story quite perfectly. She paints such lovely, such well-chosen, Victorian period details. I was intrigued as I learned how mills worked, and could work; I was fascinated to watch as Bellman and Black explored and exploited the huge potential of the morning business. The atmosphere was wonderful, and so was that feeling of foreboding that never quite went away. The themes – the growth of industrialisation and the fashion for mourning – are utterly right for the period, and they fit the story beautifully.But it’s such a pity that the plot is stretched and repetitive, that so many characters and relationships are under-developed, and that many interesting ideas, to one side of the main storyline, were left unexplored. It was maddening because the story, the settings, the descriptions were so vivid, but the understanding, the insight into the people that populated the story was missing. I wanted to care, I wanted to know, I wanted to be drawn in. But I couldn’t, I didn’t, I wasn’t.That might not have mattered if it had worked well as a ghost story, but it didn’t. The raven sequences felt clunky, and the other elements seemed under-developed.I was captivated by ‘Bellman and Black’ as I read; I saw failings, but there was plenty to hold my interest. It when the story was done I was horribly aware that things had been missing. This might have been an short story, it might have been opened out into a novel with a broader scope. But as it stands, I’m sad to say that it isn’t quite right.

  • Steven
    2019-01-23 16:06

    I don't even really know where to begin with this review. I have never once felt like I completely wasted my time with a book as I did with this one. I kept waiting for action, for the "ghost" to have some real impact on the story, for something to happen other than talking repeatedly over and over and over about Bellman's business acumen, investments, ideas for more profit, etc.But it never happened. It just kept going on and on and on and on, and nothing happened, other than we watched a man grow up and grow old and do business. NOTHING ELSE HAPPENED.I was really looking forward to the paranormal aspects that the blurb implied... the consequences for him killing the rook with the stone. It never came. Even the story line with Mr. Black didn't *really* seem to connect ENOUGH to the rook killing hook.I get a strong feeling, especially based off of the final notes at the end of the book, that she had some deep, meaningful thought behind the story... that it was her note about death or wasted life or some deep idea that SHE got from the story, or through writing it reached some revelation or catharsis, but didn't do a good job of passing it on to the reader.This was the first of hers I've read, and I had planned on picking up The Thirteenth Tale at some point, but I don't think I'll ever get to it now.Oh, I did give it a second star, strictly because I think she did a good job writing believable characters and writing within the setting that she had chosen for her story.I appreciate Netgalley's provision of this copy for me to read. I wish I had enjoyed it more.

  • Sharon Bolton
    2019-01-22 20:56

    “(A rook) is not just black, he is blacker than that. His is a luxurious superabundance of blackness never seen in any other creature.” As a child, William Bellman kills a rook in an act of thoughtless cruelty. Decades later, his life becomes haunted by a mysterious man in black and his fortunes take a turn for the worse. In the desperate hope of clinging onto one person he loves, William makes a strange bargain with the man in black. A driven man, William turns into the creative force behind a marvelous new shopping emporium, from which can be bought everything one could possibly need for the proper mourning of the dead. The store makes William’s fortune, but the mysterious Mr Black is never far away. Pretty much every review I’ve read of this book begins with the line “I loved The Thirteenth Tale…” Poor Diane Setterfield. Poor any author whose first book achieves the phenomenal success that hers did. OK, I can’t feel that sorry for her, but when a first book is truly exceptional, the pressure to produce another such must be enormous. And so it would seem. Donna Tartt seems to be averaging a book a decade. Steve Watson has yet to follow up Before I Go To Sleep. Harper Lee didn’t bother trying to top To Kill a Mockingbird. So a round of applause to Setterfield for putting herself out there, for daring to write “The Fourteenth Tale.” You know what, she almost pulled it off and in the early chapters I thought she was going to. Her writing is as exceptional as it was in The Thirteenth Tale, the research as rigorous and she seemed to have hit upon an idea as original. I loved the fabric mill and the descriptions of how colours are created. I loved the rooks theme, threading its way through the book like the ribbons of black silk Setterfield describes so beautifully. I liked William Bellman, a lusty, vivid, compelling character in the style of so many novels of this age. There was something of Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones about the early chapters. There then came a period of almost unrelenting darkness, when I almost put the book aside. It was just too bleak, too depressing. But I pressed on, and joined William in his startlingly original plans to open a cross between a Victorian Disneyland and the world’s most glamorous funeral parlour. His building of his great store was deeply intriguing and satisfying. I heaved a heavy sigh that Mr Selfridge and The Paradise have probably spoiled our chances of seeing Bellman & Black on the TV screens. What a great treat of Gothic gorgeousness that would have been. Bellman and Black should have worked brilliantly, and so nearly did. Sadly, for me, there was too much missing. For a start, unfair expectations may have been raised in more than one reader’s head, by the decision of Setterfield’s publishers to describe it, on the cover, as a ghost story. This isn’t a ghost story, it is the story of a haunted man and that’s quite a different thing. Apart from that, I wanted balance to the darkness. Some lightness, some colour, other than black. I wanted people other than William. His daughter, Dora, never really takes the centre stage she deserves and so much more could have been made of the seamstress in the shop who catches Wiliam’s eye. Ultimately, I wanted more. I wanted it all to mean something. I wanted William to find his way home, to find salvation. I wanted the other players to be more than shadows in the sidelines. I wanted all the disparate parts to come together in a riot of rainbow colours. They didn’t. Black prevailed in the end. I bought Bellman and Black, in hardback, from my local independent bookshop.

  • Bonnie
    2019-02-05 17:53

    My rating: 2 of 5 starsI received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.‘Without the past to cast its long shadow, might you see the future more clearly?’Bellman & Black is the story of William Bellman who’s life was irrevocably altered after killing a crow with a slingshot when he was eleven years old. The brief yet ominous event foreshadows his life to come. William leads a prosperous life for many years having a large family and doing wells in business until it slowly begins to decay. A sickness spreads through his family and one by one they die yet at each of their funerals William Bellman is stricken to realize there is a smiling man dressed all in black, watching him. When William finds him one day in the graveyard, waiting with a suspicious proposition.I think the fact that I actually have not yet read the much touted ‘The Thirteenth Tale’ was a benefit as I didn’t have the lofty expectations that others seemed to have going into this story. Alas, despite my lack of expectation this was still a dreadfully dull and disappointing tale. It had a very ‘Dickens’ writing style to it yet was less adroit. William Bellman even took on a similar feel to Ebenezer Scrooge who was obsessed with his business and making money (except William Bellman had a family to come home to). The attempted moral of this story is one choice can change everything, which is a powerful message, yet the deaths surrounding William Bellman didn’t even seem to be written as a result of him killing the crow but rather it was just an implied assumption. That powerful message was definitely diminished.The beginning part of the story dawdles along telling the story of an unexceptional man and detailing his factory and the business he conducted. While it was evident that the author conducted the research necessary to make her detailing convincing, it didn’t generate an ounce of interest in me. It was historically interesting but not appealing in the least as it overwhelmed the story completely. I found myself halfway through and realized that I had no interest in any of the characters, there wasn’t a single ghost to be found in this ‘ghost story’ and any sort of plot was completely nonexistent. I was confused and incredibly bored. The second half didn’t get any better and the plot (and purpose of the story) remained absent. The one saving grace of this was my decision to opt for the audio route. Jack Davenport was a fantastic narrator and managed to make this a tolerable tale.Suffice it to say, this is an apt description of my reaction when it was all said and done:

  • Nikki
    2019-01-27 19:19

    I got Bellman & Black from Netgalley a while ago, without really knowing anything about it. It turned out to be a smooth, easy read, but it didn't really get any emotional hooks into me. The narration is very straightforward after the opening chapter, which seemed to promise more by way of emotion -- the main character's courtship of his wife takes barely a chapter, and a short chapter at that! So with all that it's very hard to get involved in the rest of the novel. Despite all the death and so on, it felt... bloodless.It was interesting that Diane Setterfield clearly spent quite a long time on the research for this, and wove the life of the mills into the story. That was somewhat compelling to me, but like everything else it slid by so fast...There's nothing major wrong with the novel as a whole, really, but I have very little to say about it -- perhaps it'd be good for a train journey, or a flight, or something like that. I'm somewhat interested in Setterfield's first novel, though partly because I'm told it's quite different and some people seem to consider it better.

  • Kelly B
    2019-02-06 19:20

    I was so excited to hear that Diane Setterfield was coming out with another book, since I loved The Thirteenth Tale. I was lucky enough to land an ARC of Bellman and Black and started the book with big expectations.Bellman and Black is an easy read; I burned through it in two days. It's about William Bellman, a man who is very ambitious despite his humble beginings. The book is fairly short, but covers a lot of years. This means characters are introduced, only to be dropped a chapter or two later. Momentous occasions are described and over in a page or two. At times, the book read to me more like a fable than a novel. Unfortunately, I don't like fables, so this method of story-telling was disagreeable to me. The plot was interesting at first, but about half-ways through the book the story changes tone. Setterfield then goes into great detail about buildings, construction, and business. I was bored. It was not the kind of details I was expecting.Bellman and Black is very atmospheric, which I liked. The setting--the pastoral English village, the surrounding wood, London--all play big parts in the story. I found that aspect of the book much more fascinating than Bellman and his issues.In short, Bellman and Black was a disappointment. For readers expecting something similar to The Thirteenth Tale, they may be let down.

  • Kathryn
    2019-02-13 16:01

    Perhaps I was the victim of over-anticipation after previous enjoyment. I certainly expected that my enjoyment of this book should, in some way, approach the enjoyment I received from The Thirteenth Tale. And it had potential. But in the end, it was mostly just odd.It started slowly, but seemed like it was about to pick up the pace a little over a third of the way through, however it never actually developed any further.There were strange “chapters” interspersed between the proper chapters, headed by an ampersand (&) which actually kind of makes sense now that I’ve finished. But these & chapters were filled with information about rooks - and while the rook throughout the book was not just a rook (although I can’t say I understood the significance of the rook in its entirety, and can’t really be bothered to think about it any further) - I felt these sections were unnecessary.All in all, just a weird book. I’m giving it 3 stars - it would have been 2.5 except that it did make me keep reading, but that was probably mostly because I was expecting the brilliance of The Thirteenth Tale to come out and in this I was disappointed.

  • Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
    2019-02-13 20:52

    Oh man. You know, I actually feel really bad for authors who hit it out of the park with their first book. I totally get why Harper Lee wrote a masterpiece and dropped the mic, man. There’s SO much pressure to come out with something that’s just as brilliant and/or as much of a bestseller. The Thirteenth Tale was wonderful; I adored every page on my first read through, and, though I loved it less the second time, it was still really good. Bellman & Black is not the follow up anyone will be expecting, and not in a good way.Read the full review at A Reader of Fictions.

  • M
    2019-01-31 14:52

    A great read! A ghost story, but much more. After suffering great personal loss, William Bellman's "contract" with a mysterious stranger brings him retail riches and restores his daughter. But the cost of his success is revealed to him only at the end of his life. Rich in period detail, this novel is a joy to read. The last few pages are evocative, lyrical, uplifting.Fans of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, The Cabinet of Curiosities, and of course, Diane Setterfield's first novel, The Thirteenth Tale, will love this book.