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Derby Day As the shadows lengthen over the June grass all England is heading for Epsom Downs high life and low life society beauties and Whitechapel street girls bookmakers and gypsies hawkers and acrobats punters and thieves Whole families stream along the Surrey back roads towards the greatest race of the year Hopes are high nerves are taut hats are tossed in the air this is Derby DayFor months people have been waiting and plotting for this day Even in dark November when the wind whistles through the foggy London courts the alehouses and gentlemen's clubs echo to the sound of disputed odds In Belgrave Suare old Mr Gresham is baffled by his tigerish daughter Rebecca whose intentions he cannot fathom In the clubs of St James's rakish Mr Happerton plays billiards with his crony Captain Raff while in darkest Lincolnshire sad Mr Davenant broods over his financial embarrassments and waits for his daughter's new governess Across the channel the veteran burglar Mr Pardew is packing his bags to return to the consternation of the stalwart detective Captain McTurk Everywhere money jingles and plans are laid Uniting them all is the champion horse Tiberius on whose performance half a dozen destinies dependIn this rich and exuberant novel rife with the idioms of Victorian England the mysteries pile high propelling us towards the day of the great race and we wait with bated breath as the story gallops to a finish that no one expects

10 thoughts on “Derby Day

  1. says:

    Aficionados of horse racing in Britain I’m not one though my dad was will tell you that there are five great events of the flat racing season in this country The St Leger The Oaks The 1000 Guineas The 2000 Guineas and the greatest of them all the Epsom Derby in British English the word is pronounced “darby” In an Afterword to this book the author indicates that his novel was partly

  2. says:

    Ahhhh Victorian novels What don’t I love about them? Certainly not their size Those Victorians wrote some chubby books God bless them The time period the plots I love it all Every once in a while you find a contemporary writer who can produce a Victorian novel The uincunx by Charles Palliser Fingersmith by Sarah Waters and The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber come to mind Now add

  3. says:

    The only mystery in this book despite the billing is why I read the whole uite lengthy thing The book is structured as if it were a complex puzzle and you read it accordingly with extremely close attention to detail at the beginning but eventually it becomes evident that there is no mystery to be solved and that the book's multitude of narratives won't come together but will simply end All the char

  4. says:

    I had mixed feelings about this Booker nominated novel I was initially uite excited to read it Historical fiction set in the Victorian era with a mystery thrown in What’s not to like? And indeed there’s certainly something very mature and polished in Taylor’s writing with the style approximating late Victorian writing rather closely But the similes and metaphors that were at first so entertaining

  5. says:

    I enjoyed reading this but am not uite sure what to make of it It's billed as a Victorian mystery but didn't really seem to contain many elements of a mystery to me as it's a fairly straightforward story of misdoings in the horse racing world It's written in some kind of Victorian style which I don't know enough about to talk about I don't know whether it's a pastiche or satire or something else like that It

  6. says:

    This book is written in a very fun and engaging way and you will most likely have a rollicking good time while reading it Having said that I could not escape a feeling at the end that there was no there there Entertaining but ultimately I suspect forgettable But the ride is thoroughly enjoyable for as long as it lasts

  7. says:

    Much better than his novels set in the present since the faux Victorian style suits Taylor’s blithely condescending sensibility But saying a character is like Becky Sharp from Vanity Fair to save on characterisation? Lazy

  8. says:

    This is a skilful and subtly ironic re working of a Victorian novel The main difference is that the plot centring round the betting and speculation on horses leading up to the Epsom Derby is tightly controlled with very few digressions except where the author wants to set the scene especially that of Derby Day itself which uses the panoramic painting by Frith for inspiration There are obvious and intentional echoes of Dick

  9. says:

    Surely we are living in a new Silver Age of the Victorian sensational novel and long may it continue There have been many superlative entries in this happily revived genre—the works of Caleb Carr Sarah Waters Michael Cox and Clare Clark come to mind—but D J Taylor seems to have set the gold standard with Derby Day Part mystery part crime novel and utterly a suspense thriller it owes much to its many Victorian models—the w

  10. says:

    Having finished Derby Day I can say that it's a solid detective story in the vein of Dickens with a cast of dozens of colorful British charactersa governess a spurned blue stocking wife a sporting man who's a cad old lawyers canny housemaids etc The writing was engaging enough that I did not mind learning how about horse racing a subject that did not greatly interest me before Will try to find other books by this writer

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