Customer Review

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully drawn portrait of an about-to-vanish world, December 7, 2005
This review is from: The Shooting Party (Hardcover)
Colegate is not a well-known author, not even in Great Britain, which is a shame because she's a first-rate novelist. The scene here is the late fall of 1913, the last pheasant season before the Great War, the true end of the old century and the beginning of the new. The setting is the Oxfordshire estate of Sir Randolph Nettleby, a thoroughly conservative but thoughtful and decent member of the landed gentry, and a famous host, as well. His guests include several ill-matched aristocratic couples, married only for reasons of finance and social standing (which opens the way to discreet affairs), and the author does a wonderful job of portraying them all in multiple dimensions -- especially Olivia and Lionel, both particularly sympathetic characters. There are also the house servants, and the beaters from the village who come out to assist in putting the pheasants overhead for the shooters -- especially the teetotaling poacher, Tom Harker, whose sudden death is the climax of the book. And there's even a wandering socialist opposed to blood sports for seriocomic relief -- though his last observation of the shooters is far from laughable. The effects of agricultural depression on the rural poor, the importance of private morality, the difference between "sport" and "competition," all are examined, satirized, and explained. At the end, she provides a "what happened to them" chapter, noting who died in the War, who survived, who had to leave town. Though I wish she had told us what happens to Ellen, the maid, and John, the footman, and to Sir Reuben, and to Tommy, who was already an army officer. Besides being interesting in its own right, this warmly written book would also be a good counterweight to _Gosford Park_.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 10, 2012 9:06:04 PM PST
How can you, in good conscience, write a review giving away what you yourself refer to as "the climax of the book" without giving a SPOILER ALERT? Many reviewers are considerate enough to do so. Too bad amazon doesn't have some means of preventing this.

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2012 5:08:52 AM PDT
Have you read the book? Harker's death is the "climax" in a structural narrative sense -- but it's not a surprise for the reader. Colegate tells you it's going to happen long before it does. Actually, I try *not* to give away key plot points that the author springs unexpectedly on the reader.
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