Part social comedy, part Hardyesque tragedy, and part murder mystery.
'em any more. These yere old tower'll never stand it. I see him rock,' he says, `and the dust a-running out of the cracks like rain.' So out we come, and glad enough to stop it, too, because there wos a feast down in the meadows by the London Road, and drinks and dancing, and we wanted to be there. That were two-and-forty years ago come Lady Day, and there was some shook their heads, and said we never ought to have stopped the ring, for a broken peal broke life or happiness. But what was we to do?"
"Did they strengthen the tower afterwards?" Westray asked. "Do you find any excessive motion when the peal is rung now?"
"Lor' bless you, sir; them bells was never rung for thirty years afore that, and wouldn't a been rung then, only Tom Leech, he says: `The ropes is there, boys; let's have a ring out of these yere tower. He ain't been rung for thirty year. None on us don't recollect the last time he was rung, and if 'er were weak then, 'ers had plenty of time to get strong again, and there'l
If you've ever found yourself lamenting that Hardy and Trollope haven't written anything lately, this novel may be to your taste. It's full of the flatlands atmosphere and awash in apparently accurate details of cathedral construction. The plot is rather transparent--the experienced reader will have figured it out half way through, but the ride to the end is still worth it. Plus, it's rare that a book title sends me to the dictionary, as this one did.
One character in this novel says certain places are bound up with certain men's destinies. Yes, you will find the principal character's destiny is inextricably bound up with the central tower of the minster. Very interesting to read.
If you like Dickens' "Bleak House" or "The Mystery of Edwin Drood", I think you will like this book. "The Nebuly Coat" is a well written mystery with interesting characters, however the pace of the plot is more along the lines of Dickens than of a modern suspense novel. The title refers to the coat of arms belonging to a wealthy English family, whose story is intertwined with that of the village cathedral, a boarding house owner, and a visiting London architect repairing the cathedral. Worth reading.