DAY 24 – A BOOK YOU WISH MORE PEOPLE WOULD HAVE READ
I’m not really sure how I’d describe The Quincunx by Charles Palliser. It’s part homage, part pastiche, and maybe even a smidgen of parody of every Charles Dickens novel you’ve ever read.
Or as one reviewer put it, “Mr Palliser appears to have set out not merely to write a Dickens novel but to write all Dickens novels"
It has a contested inheritance, a missing will, and an orphan who may or may not be the heir to a huge fortune. We see everyone in society from the gentry to the poor, and we visit small rural villages, vast country estates and (just like Dickens) a very foggy London.
I have to say that I was quite intimidated when I first picked up this book. It’s nearly 800 pages long and the plot twists and turns all over the place. Palliser uses the multi-narrative technique popular in 19thcentury novels such as Wuthering Heights, The Moonstone and Bleak House, and most of his narrators are pretty unreliable.
I loved how this book was structured. It is divided into five "Parts", each taking the name of one of the families linked to the inheritance. Each Part is then divided into five "Books" and each Book is divided into five chapters. Apparently the key to the novel lies in the 63rd chapter which is right at the center of the book.
This book is not for the faint-hearted. Palliser doesn't make it easy for the reader to work out who is lying, and who is telling the truth. But if you enjoyed Bleak House and Great Expectations, you will enjoy The Quincunx.