Sunday, April 17, 2011


'Kept' is definitely the most intriguing book I've ever read. Written in authentic Victorian vernacular, and teeming with life, Kept takes you from egg collecting in the Scottish Highlands, the aristocracy and slums of Victorian London, and a brief interlude into the wilds of North America.

Peopled by a huge cast of finely wrought characters, the story moves in a convoluted way through the years 1863 to 1866. There are letters, journal entries, excerpts from magazines and a glossary to help with some of the more obscure Victorianisms.

Written predominantly by a narrator, there is always a distance to the characters, but the story doesn't suffer from this distance. In fact it adds to the mystery. The narrator choses to impart quite intimate details, yet will pull back at moments, leaving you wondering just what is in that letter, or what did that person say.

At first the widely strewn characters seem to have little in common. There is poor Mrs Ireland (brought to us in 1st person POV) who has gone mad at the loss of her baby and husband. Dewar and Dunbar, who open the novel with an egg snatching foray into Scotland. Rev Josiah Crawley (the journal writer), who befriends Mr Dixey (an egg collector) and Mr Pardew, who is almost faceless, yet is central to the story.

It took me a while to read this. Each section was superbly written and intense, for want of a better word. It left me wanting to pause and roll the words around in my mind before I continued and yet, there was a strong compulsion to keep reading. Where does that character fit in to the overall story arc, how will they  execute that train robbery, will the lost lady be found, and ...

If you like mysteries, or if you like things Victorian, then I urge you to get your hands on a copy of Kept and lose yourself for a week or two.

This is an entry for the 2011 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.


  1. Sound wonderful. I can't wait to lose myself in it. Thanks for the review.

  2. This is a great review! Yes, I like mysteries and I'd like to read something historical for a change. Righteo, it's going on my TBR list. Thank you.

  3. Pen and Joanne - I'm sure you'll both enjoy it.

  4. I love books that you have to read slowly and digest. They're the best! Thanks for the heads up on this one.

  5. It does sound great! Just about anything Victorian is appealing to me. Now that the blogging challenge is over, and our move is almost complete, losing myself in a book would be perfect!