Derby Day

( 5 )

Overview

Nominated for the Man Booker Prize, an exquisite tale of romance and rivalry, gambling and greed, from one of England’s finest writers.As the shadows lengthen over the June grass, all England is heading for Epsom Down—high life and low life, society beauties and White chapel street girls, bookmakers and gypsies, hawkers and thieves. Hopes are high, nerves are taut, hats are tossed in the air—this is Derby Day.For months people have been waiting and plotting for this day. Everyone’s eyes are on champion horse ...
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Derby Day

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Overview

Nominated for the Man Booker Prize, an exquisite tale of romance and rivalry, gambling and greed, from one of England’s finest writers.As the shadows lengthen over the June grass, all England is heading for Epsom Down—high life and low life, society beauties and White chapel street girls, bookmakers and gypsies, hawkers and thieves. Hopes are high, nerves are taut, hats are tossed in the air—this is Derby Day.For months people have been waiting and plotting for this day. Everyone’s eyes are on champion horse Tiberius, on whose performance half a dozen destinies depend. In this rich and exuberant novel, rife with the idioms of Victorian England, the mysteries pile high, propelling us toward the day of the great race, and we wait with bated breath as the story gallops to a finish that no one expects.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
An ardent passion for horse racing in Victorian society shines through in the intricate new novel by British novelist and award-winning Orwell biographer Taylor, where the ambitions of a motley bunch of stakeholders in the season’s largest race collide at London’s Epsom Downs. The foppish George Happerton, a “sporting gentleman,” marries Rebecca Gresham, the spoiled daughter of a lawyer, and purchases proven champion Tiberius. Happerton then schemes with the grubby Captain Raff to use Tiberius to throw the race in their betting favor. They enlist the services of a master thief in the process, attracting the attention of the bloodhound policeman who is investigating a brazen jewelry store burglary. The surprisingly sordid plot builds to the climatic Derby Day’s festivities and includes double-crosses, suicides, and infidelity. Taylor’s rich atmospheric details of British society, confident narrative voice, and brisk pacing create an entertaining Dickensian novel. Agent: Melanie Jackson, the Melanie Jackson Agency. (Apr.)
Financial Times
“Derby Day is a triumphant success. In this unputdownable Victorian romp Taylor enjoyable proves himself to be one of the finest of our 21st-century novelists.”
Conde Nast Traveler
“Derby Day will be hard to put down. As ever with Taylor, literary complexities lurk under the smooth surface of a stylish page-turner.”
Condé Nast Traveler
“Derby Day will be hard to put down. As ever with Taylor, literary complexities lurk under the smooth surface of a stylish page-turner.”
Sunday Times
“Taylor has written an exceptionally clever 19th-century novel with a richness of character that almost matches his models of Dickens and Thackeray.”
Kirkus Reviews
Taylor reinvents the Victorian novel, basing his narrative loosely on W.P. Frith's massive satirical portrait of mid-19th-century English life of the same name. This novel is preoccupied with social status, power relationships and even, as Taylor has it, "d______d villains." Although he creates a diffuse world without much of a center, one of the major players is Mr. Happerton, a ne'er-do-well with the casual villainy of Our Mutual Friend's Alfred Lammle. He marries Rebecca Gresham, the daughter of a wealthy London lawyer, a mariage de convenance that gets him closer to a source of the money he craves for his schemes. Happerton is a sporting gentleman whose obsession is Tiberius, a racehorse owned by the financially strapped Mr. Davenant. Happerton buys up notes to make Davenant indebted to him, though Happerton's sole purpose is to procure Tiberius and run him at Epsom Downs. In his schemes he's assisted by the hapless Captain Raff, who's completely outmaneuvered by the rakish and sharp-witted Happerton. Also involved in the action is Mr. Pardew, suspected of having robbed a London mail train and a man perhaps even shrewder than Happerton. He's on the lam while Captain McTurk, a detective, tries to track him down. Mr. Gresham becomes a valetudinarian, though it remains a possibility that his son-in-law has been slowly poisoning him. The climax of the story is the running of the Derby, and Happerton might be attempting a double cross, betting on a competing horse and trying to ensure Tiberius' loss. A sprawling and expansive novel that will appeal to those who like leisurely paced narratives with authentic 19th-century flavor.
Jonathan Yardley
D.J. Taylor, a British writer of formidable accomplishments…but little known in this country, has pulled off an impressive and wholly engaging feat in Derby Day. Set in London and environs during a few weeks in the reign of Queen Victoria, it is not merely a work of historical fiction but one written in a language appropriate to its time—i.e., it is a Victorian novel, the prose of which brings to mind Thackeray (of course) and Dickens, yet never smacks of cuteness or contrivance. It is delicious fun and can be read purely as such, yet it is also a serious novel about a society caught between the familiar and the new, in which "the world is changing" and leaving many people behind.
—The Washington Post
Christopher Benfey
Taylor has culled Victorian popular literature for pertinent epigraphs to his chapters, and he cleverly evokes the crush and clutter of 19th-century crowds. He knows the difference between a barouche and a britzka, a phaeton and a fly, and has plucked some of his characters from a once-­famous painting of the Derby by William Frith. His roving narrator, who might have strayed from Trollope or Dickens, amiably anticipates the reader's questions.
—The New York Times Book Review
Library Journal
It's Derby Day in 1860s Epsom Downs, and literally everyone is there regardless of age or station, be they rich, poor, criminal, or victim. Taylor elicits a strong sense of place and atmosphere, giving the listener a feeling of being there. Just as fascinating is the broad array of characters, who seem totally unrelated until they eventually connect to one horse, Tiberius. Will he win or lose? And is it a real win or loss? In addition to the riveting story of life before and after the biggest race of the year, an intriguing depiction of the underside of all classes (often absent from such stories) is presented in black, white—and grey. VERDICT Narrator Simon Vance's spirited delivery enhances the splendid description and even better dialog. Listeners feel privy to conversations; the recounting of the race as it happens is perfect.—Susan G. Baird, formerly with Oak Lawn P.L., IL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781605983325
  • Publisher: Pegasus
  • Publication date: 4/1/2012
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 1,281,712
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

D. J. Taylor’s Orwell won the Whitbread Prize for Biography.
His most recent books are Kept; Bright Young People; Ask Alice; and Derby Day, which was nominated for the Booker Prize and was selected as a Washington Post Best Book of the Year.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 6, 2012

    Highly recommended

    This book is especially interesting to racing fans, which we are, and to lovers of Victorian lit. This shows the seamier side of Victorian life, not seen in Dickens or Trollope, especially with regard to horseracing, horse owners, and those who work with them. Loved the punchline ending. A very unusual Victorian lady is the heroine.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2012

    Zoie

    Umm hi this wrr i check in????

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2012

    Bree

    Can i check in?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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