An enormously entertaining mystery, by turns witty, amusing, gruesome and profound. As the Dorothy L Sayers books come out of copyright, readers at Manybooks are in for a real treat.
Occassionally very readable but mostly leaden and dull, this book is mostly of interest to the student of SF, showing how far back the cliches of post-apocalyptic fantasy fiction go. The original prototype of "I Am Legend" and "Escape From New York."
EH Young's novels were often compared to the work of Jane Austen in her day: superficially, from this book it's easy to see why: balls, dinner parties, match-making, verbal jousting, feisty independent women, moody Byronic males, etc. There is, however a great degree of moral and psychological subtlety in the portraits of Young’s characters, whilst the story manages to be both carefully plotted, and naturalistic. The imagery suggested by the book's original title ('The Bridge Dividing') reflects the author’s deft use of descriptions of physical locations. Young's 'Radstowe' is a close and evocative description of Bristol, Clifton and vicinity – the original title referring to the Clifton Suspension Bridge, which features in key scenes in the novel. The portrayal of the personalities and characters of the book’s small cast ring true, and are also greatly entertaining – the eccentricity of the older sisters, Sophia and Caroline, the wanton contrariness of their niece Henrietta, the callow moodiness of her admirer Charles. Their depiction never degrades into caricature, and the protagonists develop, live and breathe on the page. It’s a moving and thoughtful novel, and however much we may no longer live in a world of maiden aunts, calling cards and illicit affairs amounting to no more physically than hands held in the moonlight, that era is brought vibrantly alive in The Misses Mallett, which ought to delight readers today, and for many years to come.
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