The Bellwether Revivals – Benjamin Wood

The Bellwether Revivals

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (2 Feb 2012)
  • I was drawn to this like a moth to the light – I can’t resist novels set in academic environments with quirky, over-privileged characters who I’d be tempted to throttle in real life.  It’s always a bonus if this elite group assimilates someone from a lower class, hoping to mould him in their own image.  Brideshead Revisited and The Secret History rank amongst my all-time favourite reads so The Bellwether Revivals should be a shoo-in….but is it strong enough to forge its own path or is it just a readable homage?

    I’m delighted to report that The Bellwether Revivals is a very distinctive, debut novel with its own identity and power.  Oscar Lowe, a young Care Assistant, finds himself drawn into another world when he meets and becomes romantically involved with Iris Bellwether, an undergraduate at Cambridge.  It is the hypnotic organ playing of Iris’s enigmatic brother Eden which draws Oscar into a church and acts as the catalyst for a series of disturbing events.

    The characterisation is superb – you feel like you’re right beside Oscar, meeting Eden for the first time, being magnetically drawn to this rangy, curly haired, eccentric/mad creature who thinks he can heal via the medium of music.   Eden’s friends and family feel compelled to protect him but is he merely a tad idiosyncratic or a real danger to himself and others?  Iris is torn between loyalty to her brother and her burgeoning romance with Oscar.  Mater and Pater live in splendid isolation, with only a vague interest in their children, as long as their grades are good.

    From the very first page I was drawn into the compelling and, at times, unnerving world of the Bellwethers.  The opening will hook you as we begin with an ending and you really have to find out how we get there.  An excellent debut novel which will appeal to fans of Brideshead, The Secret History and The Lessons by Naomi Alderman.  I can’t wait to see what this talented author comes out with next.

    My thanks to Net Galley for sending me this ARC.

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    1. Ellie says:

      I hope I get a chance to pick this up at the S&S blogger event, I know Benjamin Wood is going to be there to chat to.

    2. admin says:

      Ooh, lucky you! Pardon me while I turn a fluorescent shade of green. ;-) I’ve pre-ordered my hardback as I think it’s one of those books which has to be caressed!

    3. Ooh – sounds just my cup of tea. Like the cover too – I would be drawn to the metronome…

    4. admin says:

      I think you’d love it, Annabel – lots of manic organ playing! :-)

    5. Angi says:

      I loved it Treez! It’s a great read, and even though there are echoes of Brideshead and Secret History, his writing style is sufficiently distinctive to make it so much more that a ‘homage’ to its illustrious predecessors.
      An interesting review here from the Independent
      I don’t think that having ‘soulful eyes’ can be held against him!
      Ellie: enjoy your blogger event (if it hasn’t already happened, that is!) I met up with Ben at Southport at the Waterstones book launch last week. Sadly it looks like it’ll be a couple of years before we get to read his next novel. :(

    6. admin says:

      Delighted to hear you loved it too, Angi. I must admit to having some kind of facial dyslexia as I am not very interested in what authors look like and would be at a loss to identify most famous authors. Methinks the Independent reviewer either has a little crush on Ben or is rather envious of his looks! Off to fix my “pompadour” – be back soon… ;-)

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