By D. J. Taylor
(HarperCollins, Hardcover, 9780061146084, 480pp.)
Publication Date: May 2007
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Madness, greed, love, obsession, Machiavellian plotting, and a great train robbery, in a captivating Victorian mystery about the extreme and curious things men do to get--and keep--what they want
August 1863. Henry Ireland, a failed landowner, dies unexpectedly in a riding accident, leaving a highly strung young widow. Not far away lives Ireland's friend James Dixey, a celebrated naturalist who collects strange trophies--a stuffed bear, a pet mouse, and a wolf that he keeps caged in the grounds of his decaying house, lost in the fog on the edge of the fens.
The poachers, Dewar and Dunbar, with their cargo of pilfered eggs; Esther the observant kitchen maid, pining to be reunited with her vanished admirer; the ancient lawyer Mr. Crabbe, made careless by snobbery; John Carstairs, in search of his cousin, the elusive widow; an enigmatic debt-collector, busily plotting an audacious robbery; various lowlife henchmen; a beady-eyed country curate who sees more than he should; and Captain McTurk of Scotland Yard, patiently investigating the circumstances of Mr. Ireland's death and many other things besides--all are drawn into a net of intrigue with wide and sinister implications.
Ranging from the loch-sides of Scotland to the slums of Clerkenwell, from the gentlemen's clubs of St. James's to the Yukon wilds, Kept is a gorgeously intricate novel about the urge to possess, at once a gripping investigation of some of the secret chambers of the human heart and a dazzling reinvention of Victorian life and passions.
"A smartly satisfying novel.Intricate and vividly realized.a pin-sharp recreation of 19th century life....a playful reimagining of history"
-Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Telegraph
"A marvel of intricacy and ingenuity. Dickens and his peers would surely have approved."
"It is unlikely that many such offerings will equal, let alone surpass, D.J. Taylor's Kept"
-Francis King, Literary Review
"Taylor has captured the essence of the Victorian novel and weaves it through his gripping narrative."
"...a genuinely fascinating reading experience.a powerful contribution to the changing practice of historical fiction."
-Philippa Gregory, Sunday Times (London)
"A gripping tale, crafted with passion and intelligence, and an honorable addendum to the golden age of the English novel."
-Simon Baker, New Statesman
"Kept is a great read. It intrigues, diverts and delights. It is clever and intricate and huge fun."
-Susan Hill, Guardian
"A tour-de-force in the style of Dickens. The eccentrics and Victoriana are.captivating."