Format: Hardcover, 428 pages
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
ISBN: 978-0-7710-8931-2 (0-7710-8931-7)
Pub Date: March 20, 2012
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Part Secret History, part Brideshead Revisited for the 21st century, The Bellwether Revivals is a page-turning, romantic, eerie tale of genius and, possibly, madness; a stunning debut for fans of Sarah Waters, Donna Tartt, and Lauren Goff.
The Bellwether Revivals opens and closes with bodies. The story of whose bodies and how they come to be spread about an elegant house on the river near Cambridge is told by Oscar, a young, bright working class man who has fallen in love with an upper-class Cambridge student, Iris, and thereby become entangled with a group of close friends, led by Iris's charismatic, brilliant, possibly dangerous brother. For Eden Bellwether believes he can heal -- and perhaps more -- through the power of music.
In this masterful debut, we too are seduced by this gilded group of young people, entranced by Eden's powerful personality and his obvious talent as a musician, and caught off guard by the strangeness of Iris and Eden's parents. And we find ourselves utterly unsure as to whether Eden Bellweather is a saviour or a villain, and whether Oscar will be able to solve this mystery in time to save himself, if not everyone else.
“Benjamin Wood's debut novel, The Bellwether Revivals, draws readers in, much as Eden's organ draws Oscar, a young nursing-home care assistant, into King's College Chapel, at Cambridge. It doesn't matter that Oscar is an atheist. Before he knows it, he's sat through an entire service – just as the reader has stayed up all night, seduced by Wood's vivid prose, swept up in a crescendo of suspense. . . .”
—Globe and Mail
“This meaty and satisfying psychological thriller is an impressive literary debut. . . . Wood finds a way to keep [his plot] fresh and interesting, even as much of the action unfolds in an old and ominous estate. . . . Wood also powerfully conveys the transformational qualities of music, essential to fully realizing Eden's character. . . . An entertaining read.”
—Winnipeg Free Press
“The text hints at the plot lines and stylistic whirls of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited and W. Somerset Maugham’s The Magician and other memorable British fiction from the first half of the last century. . . . [Wood] can write lovely prose and is able to maintain a page-turning narrative pace.”
“Wood creates intriguing characters and situations that are difficult to resist. The ultimate resolution of this fast-paced novel is equally mesmerizing.”
“When Wood allows Oscar, the voice of the novel, to wander the history-saturated city [of Cambridge] the novel soars. . . . Cambridge itself is the antagonist and allurement of subtlest force in Oscar’s life, and the stellar character of The Bellwether Revivals.”
“Eden Bellwether is one of the most intriguing and disturbing literary characters I've come across -- and he's what makes Benjamin Wood's The Bellwether Revivals such a page-turner. . . . This is a stunner of a debut novel, and Wood creates a palpable sense of dread and foreboding throughout. Though he deals with weighty subjects such as the religion vs science debate, psychology, and the power of music, the plot never suffers, moving along at a brisk pace.”
—CityTV (citytv.com Friday bookclub)
“Accomplished, atmospheric, and suspenseful . . . . Wood’s prose attains the high level of craft we expect from literary novels.”
—Quill & Quire
“It’s impossible not to think of Donna Tartt when you read Benjamin Wood’s debut novel. . . . The Bellwether Revivals is a very good first novel . . . classically told.”
“An intellectual and eerie novel . . . part psychological thriller, part philosophical coming-of-age grand saga.”
“In this multi-themed and far-reaching novel, the dichotomies of reason and superstition, sanity and madness, science and faith, are given close and sustained attention.”
“A powerful read that explores the conflicts that arise between logic, religion and blind faith.”
"In prose that's unfussy but effortlessly vivid, filled with nice descriptive flourishes ... Wood's confident, sometimes creepy debut novel draws you in – like the faintly heard strain from that hauntingly played pipe-organ – and then, once you're inside, holds on, ever tightening its grip."
—Independent on Sunday
“‘Benjamin Wood’s debut is strong on character; a well-moulded cast of individuals help the plot run along fluidly… Finely crafted, well plotted and outwardly readable—a very strong debut indeed.”
—We Love This Book (UK)
“Well-drawn . . . richly imagined emotion . . . Wood’s confident, sometimes creepy debut novel draws you in—like the faintly heard strain from that hauntingly played pipe-organ—and then, once you’re inside, holds on, ever tightening its grip.”
—The Independent (UK)
“A timely examination of the conflict between religion and scepticism. . . . Readers will find themselves transfixed by this richly drawn cast of characters. The fact that Wood can hold his own in such heavyweight company is a measure of his achievement.”
“Previous authors have explored the proximity of genius to madness, but Wood treats this familiar theme with a freshness and intelligence that hint at greater things to come.”
"The Bellwether Revivals is a stunningly good debut novel, a thrilling story of music and its hold on a group of young people's minds and lives. Ben Wood writes with vigor, precision and intensity, with a story that will keep readers up all night."
—Steven Galloway, author of Ascension and The Cellist of Sarajevo
“The Bellwether Revivals renders the cruelties and frailties of genius with acuity and tenderness, exploring the naïve sophistication of bright young minds, the moral immunity granted to coteries of privilege, and the true nature of mastery in art. Seductive, resonant, and disquieting, Benjamin Wood’s novel captures strains and cadences, qualities of music that are rarely rendered except in sound. Dextrously unsettling and deeply empathetic.”
—Eleanor Catton, author of The Rehearsal
BENJAMIN WOOD was born in 1981 and grew up in northwest England. In 2004, he was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship to attend the MFA Creative Writing programme at the University of British Columbia. During his tenure as fiction editor of Canadian literary journal, PRISM international, the publication was awarded the Writers' Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize. Benjamin's short fiction has appeared in several international journals, and his novel The Bellwether Revivals was shortlisted for the inaugural Dylan Thomas Prize Sony Reader Award for the best unpublished novel. He is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London, where he teaches and develops undergraduate programmes.
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