review: kept

8 08 2008

I was reading The Gathering, honest I was, and by all rights it should have been the next book I posted about, but the funniest thing happened: I went to read it and I couldn’t find it.  I had the hammock all set up, the homemade iced tea poured and try as I might I couldn’t locate the darn book.  Not that I was overly upset, for as I said before, I wasn’t enjoying it all that much.  Not wanting to waste time looking for it, I decided to pick something else from the TBR pile and Kept drew my attention.

Kept – as the cover makes clear – is a Victorian mystery.  It focuses on a whole array of characters, who by the end, all come together in relation to two key mysteries.  The problem for me was that neither mystery was that much of a mystery.  I found the resolution disappointing and the revealing of all the connections somewhat blah.  The story of Mrs. Ireland and her maid Esther – and the narratives that were given from their perspectives – were the highlight of the story for me and I wanted much more of a revelation in regards to both of them.  It promised a great deal, particularly with Taylor’s tendency to give partial information in advance, but not explain its significance for awhile or to end a section just when it appeared a true revelation was to occur, but it didn’t really deliver in the end for me, I’m afraid.

TableTopic Cube Question 1: Is the book realistic?

That’s an interesting question to pull.  I guess my answer would have to yes and no.  On many levels the book is realistic and by the end everything is explained in a rational manner.  And yet there is a certain feeling or aura about it that has almost a supernatural quality – or maybe that’s just the cover talking.  In terms of its scope and all of the characters connecting in the end, I found that very unrealistic.  The book is Dickensian in its aim, I think, but it wasn’t able really pull all of those threads together in the way that Dickens could.

TableTopics Cube Question #2: What was the author’s message?

[warning – spoiler in the following answer]

This question leaves me a bit perplexed.  I’m not sure if I got an overriding message or really any message at all.  Maybe don’t look up a Victorian lady for her money or you might get eaten by a wolf?  Possibly?

TableTopics Cube Question #3: Which fairy tale or children’s story has similarities to this book?

This book has, as I said, before a supernatural feel, but it also has a fable or a fairy tale quality in places.  Certainly in the story of Mrs. Ireland’s captivity you can feel traces of Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel.  There is also something of a trickster quality in Mr. Dixey – who I could never quite get a good sense of – and in Mr. Pardew.  Animals and Mr. Dixey’s fascination with nature and with keeping it reminds me of a children’s story, but I can’t quite think of a specific one.  It might be more the tone of these sections, rather than one specific story.

Rating: ** out of 5

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