Thursday, July 12, 2012
The Bellweather Revivals
Nursing assistant Oscar Lowe has an ordinary, if not lonely, life. He works at an assistance living facility for the elderly, has few friends, and is not close to his family. One day he hears beautiful organ music coming from a church near Cambridge and is drawn to enter even though he is not religious. That is where he meets and falls in love with Iris Bellwether, who is the sister of the musical genius Eden. The Bellwether family is wealthy, prominent, and influential – and Oscar feels totally out of his element. He has always been more of a working class guy, who never had the money or the opportunities to attend college or have as much leisure time as the Bellwethers and their circle of friends do.
Eden is rather an odd bird but very intelligent, talented and charismatic. He is convinced that he can heal the sick with the music of an obscure baroque composer and tries to prove his theory with a series of bizarre and abusive experiments on his sister and friends, including a very disturbing experience with Oliver. Iris believes that Eden is mentally ill with a little known and difficult to diagnose condition, and she enlists Oliver’s help to convince a doctor who specializes in this particular disorder to examine Eden. As the situation escalates, Oliver becomes more entrenched in the dysfunctional dynamic between Iris and Eden and he soon realizes that Eden’s mental illness could prove dangerous to those around him.
Since this novel’s preface describes a crime scene, it is no secret that the perceived danger surrounding Eden’s strange theories is very real and threatening. However, the novel’s opening chapters sets a steadier and measured approach to the action as it slowly builds the tension and suspense. Oscar is mesmerized by Eden and Iris in the beginning – he enjoys living the opulent lifestyle as part of the inner circle of friends invited for holidays, suppers, and the like. The author does a nice job of drawing the reader into the novel as Oscar is drawn into the mentally unstable and charismatic influence of Eden. I enjoyed the British setting of this novel as well as the fascinating characters and psychological situations. Oscar was likeable and sympathetic – a realistic portrayal of a hero who tries his best to make things right in a world that has gone horribly wrong.
This is the author’s first novel.
Other titles you may enjoy:
The Cadaver’s Ball by Charles Atkins (2005)
Psychiatrist Peter Grainger struggles to put his life back together following the death of his wife and unborn child, while an old friend from medical school, Dr. Ed Tyson, a man with a longtime grudge against Peter, seeks revenge.
A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay (2010)
When traumatic memories about a disturbing event from a childhood summer holiday cause his sister to suffer a debilitating car accident, Antoine befriends a street-wise mortician who helps him to manage painful family truths.
Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski (2007)
Following his girlfriend to her new teaching position in Thailand, a young reporter researches the story of American anthropologist Martiya van der Leun, following her suicide in the Thai prison where she was serving a lengthy sentence for murder.