Quincunx

Quincunx

4.5 22
by Charles Palliser
     
 

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An extraordinary modern novel in the Victorian tradition, Charles Palliser has created something extraordinary—a plot within a plot within a plot of family secrets, mysterious clues, low-born birth, high-reaching immorality, and, always, always the fog-enshrouded, enigmatic character of 19th century — London itself.
"You read the first page and

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Overview

An extraordinary modern novel in the Victorian tradition, Charles Palliser has created something extraordinary—a plot within a plot within a plot of family secrets, mysterious clues, low-born birth, high-reaching immorality, and, always, always the fog-enshrouded, enigmatic character of 19th century — London itself.
"You read the first page and down you wonderfully fall, into a long, large, wide world of fiction."
THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The epic length of this first novel--nearly 800 densely typeset pages--should not put off readers, for its immediacy is equal to its heft. Palliser, an English professor in Scotland, where this strange yet magnetic work was first published, has modeled his extravagantly plotted narrative on 19th-century forms--Dickens's Bleak House is its most obvious antecedent--but its graceful writing and unerring sense of timing revivifies a kind of novel once avidly read and surely now to be again in demand. The protagonist, a young man naive enough to be blind to all clues about his own hidden history (and to the fact that his very existence is troubling to all manner of evildoers) narrates a story of uncommon beauty which not only brings readers face-to-face with dozens of piquantly drawn characters at all levels of 19th-century English society but re-creates with precision the tempestuous weather and gnarly landscape that has been a motif of the English novel since Wuthering Heights . The suspension of disbelief happens easily, as the reader is led through twisted family trees and plot lines. The quincunx of the title is a heraldic figure of five parts that appears at crucial points within the text (the number five recurs throughout the novel, which itself is divided into five parts, one for each of the family galaxies whose orbits the narrator is pulled into). Quintuple the length of the ordinary novel, this extraordinary tour de force also has five times the ordinary allotment of adventure, action and aplomb. Literary Guild dual main selection. (Feb.)
Library Journal
First novelist Palliser combines an eye for social detail and vivid descriptions of the dark side of 19th-century London with a gift for intricate plotting and sinister character development reminiscent of 19th-century novels. He weaves a complicated tale of a codacil containing a crucial entail, the possible existence of a second will, and a multiplicity of characters--all mysteriously related--seeking to establish their claims to a vast and ancient estate. Related by a young boy who often appears too worldly for his sheltered upbringing and wise beyond his years, the story occasionally bogs down in innuendo and detail which become tedious rather than suspenseful. Nevertheless, overall, this is a gripping novel. Highly recommended. Literary Guild dual main selection. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/89.-- Cynthia Johnson Whealler, Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, Mass.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780345371133
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/28/1990
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
800
Sales rank:
187,566
Product dimensions:
6.16(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.69(d)

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