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.