'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.
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.