Bellman & Black: A Ghost Story

Paperback | October 15, 2013

byDiane Setterfield

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Bellman & Black is a heart-thumpingly perfect ghost story, beautifully and irresistibly written, its ratcheting tension exquisitely calibrated line by line. Its hero is William Bellman, who, as a boy of 11, killed a shiny black rook with a catapult, and who grew up to be someone, his neighbours think, who "could go to the good or the bad." And indeed, although William Bellman's life at first seems blessed--he has a happy marriage to a beautiful woman, becomes father to a brood of bright, strong children, and thrives in business--one by one, people around him die. And at each funeral, he is startled to see a strange man in black, smiling at him. At first, the dead are distant relatives, but eventually his own children die, and then his wife, leaving behind only one child, his favourite, Dora. Unhinged by grief, William gets drunk and stumbles to his wife's fresh grave--and who should be there waiting, but the smiling stranger in black. The stranger has a proposition for William--a mysterious business called "Bellman & Black" . . .

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From the Publisher

Bellman & Black is a heart-thumpingly perfect ghost story, beautifully and irresistibly written, its ratcheting tension exquisitely calibrated line by line. Its hero is William Bellman, who, as a boy of 11, killed a shiny black rook with a catapult, and who grew up to be someone, his neighbours think, who "could go to the good or the b...

DIANE SETTERFIELD is a former academic specializing in twentieth-century French literature. She lives in Oxford, England. Her first novel, The Thirteenth Tale, debuted at #1 on The New York Times besteller list. The author lives in Oxford, England.

other books by Diane Setterfield

The Thirteenth Tale
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see all books by Diane Setterfield
Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 8.99 × 6.33 × 0.85 inPublished:October 15, 2013Publisher:Doubleday CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385679505

ISBN - 13:9780385679503

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Reviews

Rated 2 out of 5 by from Didn't come close to her first novel I was very excited to read Diane Setterfield's new novel having devoured her first one. But, unfortunately, I was disappointed with this book. The story progressed very slowly and even when new twists were happening, they were not as interesting and pretty predicable. They story could have been more developed in my opinion. I only finished in order to see if there was a great ending but alas there was none, it was predictable. Too bad...
Date published: 2014-11-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Bellman and black Drags on and on. Not a fan of this one.
Date published: 2014-04-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Bellman and black I loved this authors first book - couldn't put it down and one I've kept in my library. What to say about this book though. The main character is engaging and the first part of the book progresses quickly and keeps the reader engaged. And then, not unlike the main character, it sort of stalls. It continues to plod from this point (about half way) through to the end. While the writing is good, and the dilemma relatable, it needed a bit more umpf. I would still buy another book by this author, but this definitely isn't among my faves.
Date published: 2014-02-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another great book! Diane Setterfield has written a wonderful follow up the The Thirteenth Tale. Please don't let us wait too long for your next enchanting endeavor.
Date published: 2014-01-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Thought provoking read A fascinating story of how a small incident in one boy's life comes to haunt his every moment as a grown man. With details of historical fabric mills and life in Britain at a time when mourning was done up in black crepe or grey as the situation warranted, this clever "ghost" story is a serpentine way of getting to a very satisfying conclusion.  And although not the same as her first novel, Setterfield has written a book that will stay with me for a very long time. 
Date published: 2014-01-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Didn't come close to her first book Diane Setterfield's award winning, debut novel - The Thirteenth Tale, was a lovely, atmospheric 'ghost' story. Her second novel is Bellman and Black. Set in the past in England, Bellman and Black opens with young William Bellman launching the perfect slingshot volley - unexpectedly hitting it's target - a young rook. (a member of the crow family) That seemingly innocuous event forever marks young William's life. It isn't even an event he remembers. But he is afraid of birds..... Initially seen as a bit of a ne'er do well, young William finds his place in the world, successfully moving into a family business, marrying and having a family. But misfortune enters William's life as friends and family members die. And at each funeral William sees a mysterious man in black. A man with whom he eventually partners with in a new venture - a funeral emporium. Bellman and Black. I was very much looking forward the this second novel. But, I found myself somewhat disappointed. The story is slow to evolve, with much detail included in building both time and place. I did find the historical details included interesting, but I wanted more. I wanted something to happen. The man in black is mysterious, but there isn't enough of a build-up to the final reveal for me to be even remotely chilled. The role of rooks in history, myth and lore is discussed at the beginning of many chapters. Paying attention to that precluded any surprises that came with the final chapters. British cover versions of this book have added the sub-title of "A Ghost Story". This was not included on the North American cover. And wisely. While it's eerie, it doesn't cross into ghost territory in my opinion. Instead I found myself thinking of Poe's The Raven and Hitchcock's The Birds. (But not near that level of fright) Good, but not great for this reader. I found I was too easily able to put the book down. However, Setterfield's prose are excellent - I would pick up the next book by this author.
Date published: 2013-12-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Didn't begin to come close to her first book Diane Setterfield's award winning, debut novel - The Thirteenth Tale, was a lovely, atmospheric 'ghost' story. Her second novel is Bellman and Black. Set in the past in England, Bellman and Black opens with young William Bellman launching the perfect slingshot volley - unexpectedly hitting it's target - a young rook. (a member of the crow family) That seemingly innocuous event forever marks young William's life. It isn't even an event he remembers. But he is afraid of birds..... Initially seen as a bit of a ne'er do well, young William finds his place in the world, successfully moving into a family business, marrying and having a family. But misfortune enters William's life as friends and family members die. And at each funeral William sees a mysterious man in black. A man with whom he eventually partners with in a new venture - a funeral emporium. Bellman and Black. I was very much looking forward the this second novel. But, I found myself somewhat disappointed. The story is slow to evolve, with much detail included in building both time and place. I did find the historical details included interesting, but I wanted more. I wanted something to happen. The man in black is mysterious, but there isn't enough of a build-up to the final reveal for me to be even remotely chilled. The role of rooks in history, myth and lore is discussed at the beginning of many chapters. Paying attention to that precluded any surprises that came with the final chapters. British cover versions of this book have added the sub-title of "A Ghost Story". This was not included on the North American cover. And wisely. While it's eerie, it doesn't cross into ghost territory in my opinion. Instead I found myself thinking of Poe's The Raven and Hitchcock's The Birds. (But not near that level of fright) See the publisher's trailer below for how they chose to market the book. Good, but not great for this reader. I found I was too easily able to put the book down. However, Setterfield's prose are excellent - I would pick up the next book by this author.
Date published: 2013-12-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really good read Setterfield writes so well, catching this reader up in a tale of a boy whose youthful bragging caused an incident that affected the rest of his life. The changes in Bellman's circumstances seem charmed at first, but grow darker as years go by. I would have liked the ending to be more dramatic but was well satisfied that this was a good reading choice.
Date published: 2013-10-19

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Editorial Reviews

“This is a beautifully constructed story of life and death. Setterfield's prose is elegant and subtle, her story-telling precise; she is a writer who knows when to hold back.”
The New Zealand Herald