Derby Day : A Victorian Mystery, Paperback
3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


It's Derby Day and all of England is heading for the Epsom Downs.

Society beauties rub shoulders with Whitechapel street girls, as every class of society gathers with high hopes and taut nerves for the greatest race of the year.

All through winter, from London to France, plans have been laid, money exchanged, disputes begun. And uniting the destinies of old Mr Gresham and his tigerish daughter, the rakish Mr Happerton and his crony Captain Raff, brooding Mr Davenant, Mr Pardew the burglar and detective Captain McTurk is the champion horse Tiberius.

In 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.

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2011.




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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

4 stars for the pacy narrative and period detail. Mr Taylor paints a compelling picture of the niceties of off course betting in Victorian England, the roaring trade in buying and selling notes ("bills") of credit, and the general crushing boredom of lower and upper middle class life. His characters are well drawn and broadly sympathetic and the plot around the ownership, running and potential success (or not) of the horse Tiberius is engrossing. Mr Taylor is also able to keep the Victorian tone of the narrative fairly steady, with only the occasional slipSo far so good. But it falls down in a couple of ways. Firstly, the female characters are a lot less believable than the male. Mrs Happerton is a central character in the plot - and yet her motives remain obscure. All the male characters find her sly and enigmatic - and its seems the author is unable to pin her down either. Which is fine in a way - but it does leave some important plot threads loose, at least for me. Similarly the governess Miss Ellington is dispatched to the depths of Lincolnshire with much fanfare and dread - and then left to her own devices, as though the author also can't work out what a young woman would do to amuse herself in these circumstances, So overall an enjoyable book, perfect for the beach pool or plane, but light

Review by

Rather a tedious book. Clearly meticulously researched, but very laboured and desperately heavy going.Reading this book was a little like watching grass grow in real time, but maybe not quite as exciting.

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