“Seductive, decadent, cruel and utterly thrilling – just like Horace Lavelle himself. This is The Talented Mr Ripley for the twenty-first century.”


Blimey! Where do I begin? What a beautifully written book, Blackmore’s use of language is exquisite and very fitting for the era in which this novel is set. It is not florid (I dislike florid), but effortlessly crafted.

About a third of the way in, I had to put this book aside for a few weeks; not because I disliked it or struggled with it but life intervened. Yet I have to confess I thought of it frequently; like Benjamin, the intoxicating Mr Lavelle was ever on my mind.

I was drawn in instantly; within a few pages I knew all I needed to know about the brothers without a clunky, incongruous back story. All the characters are presented in only as much detail as is necessary, so some more than others; this keeps the pace moving and the interest piqued.

This is not historical fiction, this is social observation; it could be set in any time and still be relevant. Historic fact is included only when needed for enhancement or ridicule. Readers expecting a journal of a Grand Tour will be disappointed; readers hoping for a well crafted, wordy, at times poetic novel will not be.

Some readers will find this book offensive…and there’s the irony. It is prejudice, bigotry and intolerance which are the protagonist (antagonists, really) of this tale. That is where all fault lies; not with Lavelle, not Benjamin, not with his mother but with those who will not accept people as they are. Sadly, little changes in this world.

This is not a spoiler but if a little more was left to the imagination then this beautifully written book and its important message could reach a wider audience. That this may cause some to not read it is my only criticism.


Reviewed by:

Rebecca Masterman

Added 8th May 2020