Rustication (Palliser)

Charles Palliser, 2013
W.W. Norton
336 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780393088724

A vertiginous gothic masterpiece from the best-selling author of The Quincunx.

Charles Palliser’s work has been hailed as “so compulsively absorbing that reality disappears” (New York Times). Since his extraordinary debut, The Quincunx, his works have sold over one million copies worldwide. With his new novel, Rustication, he returns to the town of Thurchester, which he evoked so hauntingly in The Unburied.

It is winter 1863, and Richard Shenstone, aged seventeen, has been sent down—“rusticated”—from Cambridge under a cloud of suspicion. Addicted to opium and tormented by sexual desire, he finds temporary refuge in a dilapidated old mansion on the southern English coast inhabited by his newly impoverished mother and his sister, Effie.

Soon, graphic and threatening letters begin to circulate among his neighbors, and Richard finds himself the leading suspect in a series of crimes and misdemeanors ranging from vivisection to murder. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Birth—December 11, 1947
Where—Holyoke, Massachusetts, USA
Raised—in the UK
Education—Oxford University
Awards—Sue Kaufman Prize
Currently—lives in London, England, UK

Charles Palliser is a best-selling novelist, American-born but British-based. His most well-known novel, The Quincunx, has sold over a million copies internationally. He is the elder brother of the late author and freelance journalist Marcus Palliser.

Life and career
Born in New England he is an American citizen but has lived in the United Kingdom since the age of three. He went up to Oxford in 1967 to read English Language and Literature and took a First in June 1970. He was awarded the BLitt (Bachelor of Letters, a post graduate degree) in 1975 for a dissertation on Modernist fiction.

From 1974 until 1990 Palliser was a Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. He was the first Deputy Editor of The Literary Review when it was founded in 1979. He taught creative writing during the Spring semester of 1986 at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

In 1990 he gave up his university post to become a full-time writer when his first novel, The Quincunx, became an international best-seller. He teaches occasionally for the Arvon Foundation, the Skyros Institute, the University of London, London Metropolitan University, and Middlesex University. He was Writer in Residence at the University of Poitiers in 1997.

He has published four novels which have been translated into a dozen languages; among them French, German, Dutch, Finnish, Spanish, Greek, Japanese, Lithuanian, Polish and Russian. Palliser has also written for the theatre, radio, and television. His stage play, Week Nothing, toured Scotland in 1980. His 90 minute radio play, The Journal of Simon Owen, was commissioned by the BBC and twice broadcast on Radio 4 in June, 1982. His short TV film, "Obsessions: Writing," was broadcast by the BBC and published by BBC Publications in 1991. His short radio play, "Artist with Designs," was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 21 February 2004.

Since 1990 he has written the Introduction to a Penguin Classics edition of the Sherlock Holmes stories, the foreword to a new French translation of Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone published by Editions Phebus, and other articles on 19th century and contemporary fiction. He is a past member of the long-running North London Writers circle.
Awards and nominations

In 1991 The Quincunx was awarded the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction by the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters which is given for the best first novel published in North America. The Unburied was nominated for the 2001 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. (From Wikipedia. Retrieved 2013.)

Book Reviews
(Starred review.) Palliser juxtaposes Gothic melodrama, a metafictional frame, a vividly unreliable narrator, and a roiling mix of mysteries in this provocative Victorian thriller.... Rustication showcases the author’s originality, boldness, and range.... [Despite] its graphic passages...the novel wraps a genuinely memorable reflection on family and human fallibility in a wickedly entertaining, intricately plotted read.
Publishers Weekly

Palliser vividly captures the claustrophobic feeling of a small Victorian community being overwhelmed by anxiety and mistrust, and fans of twisty plots will enjoy guessing at the town’s many secrets as they sift through the rumors and gossip offered up by a well-drawn cast of darkly quirky characters. —Mara Bandy, Champaign P.L., IL
Library Journal

Something wicked...iis in the heart of a small town in mid-Victorian England. Sent down from Cambridge in disgrace, 17-year-old Richard Shenstone retreats to an ancient, crumbling house on the edge of a marshy bay occupied by his recently widowed mother and his enigmatically secretive sister.... Paranoia reigns supreme as the twists and turns keep multiplying in this gothic horror show adeptly spun. —Margaret Flanagan

A reprobate college student stands accused of a host of moral failings in an intensely gothic tale....but, like most gothic literature, this is a highly moral novel: It's about the struggle to live rightly when nature and man alike send storm clouds your way. The story turns on whether or not Richard is the author of [a series of vicious] letters, but...[m]uch time is spent elaborating on the complex web of relationships in the town...which saps the emotional power of Richard's effort to redeem himself.
Kirkus Reviews

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