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Derby Day: A Novel Hardcover – April 1, 2012
A girl with loyalty to both sides in a war—and the dangerous opportunity to save lives. Learn More
“Taylor has written an exceptionally clever 19th-century novel with a richness of character that almost matches his models of Dickens and Thackeray.” (Sunday Times, London)
“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)
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Top Customer Reviews
This is risky for a novelist to attempt, and I'm not certain whether such a concept will prove popular in the United States, but I found it generally successful. The caveat to that is that I read and reread a large number of Victorian novels, and have great patience for their length.
The pacing of the book is languid, particularly at the beginning, but the various tentacles of the plot finally come together for the Derby. Actually the main plot strands come together around the race, but there is a non-Victorian epilogue that tells us what happened to other characters.
The main character, Mr. Happerton, has many of the characteristics admired by Victorian novelists and readers. A self-made man who, while clearly only interested in his own monetary advancement, is pleasant, diligent and farsighted. But we soon learn he is an amoral cad, and in no sense a gentleman. All keen readers of Victorian fiction know the eventual destiny of such persons. The only suspense in the book (and by this I mean Dickens' suspense, not Wilkie Collins' mystery) is who will win the Derby.
The book is great fun, filled with minor Victorian wit (sitting longer than Gladstone, endless dissenter quips) and a reasonably good ear for Victorian prose. But the entirety of the book is a tad thin, and none of the characters, or scenes, live up to the standards of fine Victorian literature. After finishing this I reread Trollope's The Eustace Diamonds. Rebecca Happerton is an insecure, repressed woman who would benefit from some mentoring from Lizzie Eustace.
I'm so happy to have dicovered Taylor and I'm looking forward to reading his other novels.
The character we ended up with was not one where we got into her head, but she was always the one we wanted
to ask:" Are you getting this? who is riding this story?"
I'm not sure why it was a finalist for the Booker Prize. But then I have never understood the appeal of Hillary Mantel's books as the "best" either. It is a rather modest little charming work. The author captures the Victorian tone and does
much by innuendo which makes the reader feel intelligent rather than spelling it all out.
For a novel of this size (400 pages) it's a bit thin. None of the characters never really get quite fleshed out in the way that one might like, and some of the characters and subplots don't seem to repay their inclusion.
I think fans of Victorian/period novels will enjoy this.
If you enjoy Victorian style writing, in the best sense-- not verbose, but descriptive, and with a cracking good plot-- you'll probably like this book. In an age in which gifted writers tend to be so averse to old-fashioned story-telling that they'll go to any lengths to deprive the reader of a straightforward narrative, writers like D.J. Taylor are a much-needed relief from all the pretentiousness and obscurity.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really loved this book. I am writing this review after finishing the book five months ago. The mystery is subtle and intelligent. It is not a barn burner, in your face thriller. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Dorothy
Nothing really new about a much written topic. The chapters which are in accordance with the Allied named beaches are more or less the same.Published 9 months ago by ronald schwarcz
Thoroughly enjoyed this book! A cross between Dickens and Sherlock Holmes. I plan to read more of this author.Published 23 months ago by Morganzer
Well written enjoyable novel written in Victorian style. Lots of characters and intrigue, plenty of the seamier side just below the veneer of propriety. Read morePublished on March 16, 2014 by Thuringer
Enjoying both Victorian England and horse racing, I was excited to read this book. Very disappointing. Read morePublished on January 5, 2014 by Kindler
Amazing that a contemporary British novelist wants to write 19th century novels like DERBY DAY!
Since one of his favorite writers is Thackeray (he wrote an excellent bio... Read more
Trite, stale, boring, superficial, predictable, two-dimensional characters, not even up to the level of writing required by TV soaps. I quit reading within 20 pages.Published on November 15, 2013 by Elinor Walker
I did not find the story line engaging enough to make to the end.
I didn't enjoy any of the main characters. Boring read.
Derby Day is a beautifully crafted story with complex characters and an intricate plot that revolves around a horse and whether it will run in the Derby at Epsom Downs. Read morePublished on July 21, 2013 by Pam Wilder