Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Charmingly Mysterious

Sydney Chambers and the Shadow of Death is novel comprised of several short mysteries all involving Sydney Chambers, a young vicar in a picturesque English village just outside of Cambridge. There's nothing earth shattering about the mysteries themselves; they flow into one another at a leisurely pace and only one of the plots feels at all suspenseful. That being said, you won't be disappointed if you're looking to read something purely for a dose of idyllic British atmosphere.

I'm going to keep this short and sweet since I'm still winding down from a long weekend trip (pictures on the way!), but I will say that I think it's no small feat to pull off creating a character who's a vicar and also really likable and relatable. In most British novels I read, clergy figures seem to be most frequently portrayed as elderly and a bit tottering. When they are younger, then tend to veer towards the smarmy ridiculousness of Austen's Mr. Collins. As a character, Sydney Chambers avoids these traits completely. Living in the 1950's, he brings an early era Mad Men sensibility to a pastoral and aristocratic world that's not too far off from Downton Abbey, all while meandering through crimes like someone out of an Agatha Christie novel.

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