Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield


I cannot believe I have read all three books this year! Only things like this make me realise that time has not flown as fast as I think it has from one week to the next. I have linked the previous reviews below, and as I typed this out the whole discussion of time (it’s true, I swear!) I realised that it is an apt way to jump into Bellman and Black!

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It is very different from the other two, I felt it lighter than the others despite focusing on a darker angle, death. It is the death that comes as part and parcel of life, which adds another perspective to the narrative. Will Bellman is a young boy (ten years and a little more) out with his friends and decides to stake a bet on his claim to make an impossible arc to hit his target. This one act sets in motion something that is to dog his steps for the rest of his life.

The life of Will Bellman is routine, except for his prowess at working things out in his mind. This also doubles as a coping mechanism whenever death comes knocking at his door. We watch the events saga-like as he grows older/ages. Every action is later explained to us. The magical realism woven into the tale is an allegorical representation of the all-natural progression of life. There are a few kinks in the path; however, the biggest being the unknown fear that lurks near the concept of death and prosperity (in that order) for Will. He only figures it out towards the end, albeit with a little help and nudges. I have to say that I liked the story as it grew, but the ending clinched my emotional reaction to the book. It was such a satisfying way to turn the last page. This last bit is a rare occurrence, as many can attest.

To sum up my take on the book, I would have to say it is about life, both big and small. It is the angle of approach that makes the time spent reading about it worthwhile. I love the way the images are laid out in close successions in such a way that we cannot decide on one particular emotion to feel towards our main protagonist. Once you put him (or anyone else in this story for that matter) in one box, there is more that we ought to have known revealed to us! I highly recommend this to those people who have either read books by the author before or like historical fiction(ish) tales woven with magical realism while being all about the characters.

3 thoughts on “Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield”

    1. Oh it’s a whole different experience!! I have seen the fact that the ratings on Goodreads are not very glowing…so i think maybe there are ppl who love it or completely don’t ..i hope you end up in the first category! 😆


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