Lucy Minor is the resident odd duck in the hamlet of Bury. He is a compulsive liar, a sickly weakling in a town famous for begetting brutish giants. Then Lucy accepts employment assisting the majordomo of the remote, foreboding Castle Von Aux. While tending to his new post as undermajordomo, he soon discovers the place harbours many dark secrets, not least of which is the whereabouts of the castle's master, Baron Von Aux. Thus begins a tale of polite theft, bitter heartbreak, domestic mystery, and cold-blooded murder.
Undermajordomo Minor is an ink-black comedy of manners, an adventure, and a mystery, and a searing portrayal of rural Alpine bad behaviour, but above all it is a love story. And Lucy must be careful, for love is a violent thing.
Hindsight is 20/20. I should have re-read a fairy tale or two before tackling Undermajordomo Minor. I think it would have been useful to have the fairy tale structure in my head to compare to this work.
I do love the way deWitt plays with names. His outlaws with the surname Sisters in The Sisters Brothers and now Lucien Minor who takes on the position of Undermajordomo in this novel.
I snorted when the Majordomo, Mr. Olderglough, says, “I find the constant upkeep of the body woefully fatiguing, don’t you?” I have been known the claim that if I did everything every day that all of my health care professionals recommend that I do, I’d have no time to go to work. Perhaps I exaggerate a trifle. Perhaps.
Alas, I find that I don’t fully connect with Mr. DeWitt’s writing somehow—I like his work, but I always come away feeling that I’ve missed something crucial which would have transformed them into a fabulous experience.
Wow, how did we get in to February? Geesh.
I finished 6 books in January—not a huge number for me, but I also got 1/3 of the way into A Suitable Boy, which will be the longest book I have ever read (once I finish!).
Book total: 6
Nonfiction: 3 (!!)
1001 Book List books: 1
2015/2016 publications: 1
In translation: 2
Female authors: 2/6
Diverse authors: 1/6
Award winners: 1/6
I am pretty pleased with the mix this month. Half nonfiction, and a good mix of translation, female authors, and diversity. Which makes the whole month quite diverse. I love nonfiction, but this is a lot for me. And I admit I do read a lot of female authors, so 2/6 is not high for me. It's the mix of a little bit of everything that makes me happy—and keeps me reading!
First off, I love the cover art by Dan Stiles!
In The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt, Eli and Charlie Sisters are notorious killers from Oregon working for "The Commodore" as guns for hire. They travel to California during the 1851 gold rush to kill their latest target, Hermann Kermit Warm. These two brothers are as different as night and day. Charlie is a cold-blooded killer who longs for power. Eli is a more sensitive type who would like to settle down to a simpler life. The book is narrated by Eli and his descriptions of random occurrences during their travels symbolize the deep misgivings he is having about his choices in life.
"My very center was beginning to expand, as it did before violence, a toppled pot of black ink covering the frame of my mind, its contents ceaseless, unaccountably limitless. My flesh and scalp started to ring and tingle and I became someone other than myself, or I became my second self, and this person was highly pleased to be stepping from the murk and into the living world where he might do just as he wished. I felt at once both lust and disgrace and wondered, Why do I relish this reversal to animal?"
This book is a violent and darkly funny romp through the old west. It's not a book for everyone but it is fresh and different. Although I wasn't thrilled with the treatment of most of the animals in the book, I did enjoy the story. There were times while I was reading that I pictured a Quentin Tarantino movie. Chances are if you like those, you will like this book.