Context: Mrs Arukiyomi started looking after the lovely Tikvah a couple of days a week while I was reading this.
A long while ago, I read Under the Net and it went completely over my head. Didn’t much enjoy it. One good thing about reading from a list is that you are forced to return to authors you didn’t like initially and then realise are so versatile that you can enjoy them, even if you don’t appreciate every one of their works. That’s exactly what happened with The Bell, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
What starts out as a description of a failed marriage takes a different turn when Dora returns to her husband who is now working at a country house that contains a abbey that contains a bell…. or at least it used to contain a bell. The original bell is rumoured to have been lost in the lake and the plan is to replace it with a modern reproduction.
As the story wends it’s way towards the ceremony of the replacement bell, it heightens to a dramatic climax and, as this happens, the plot thickens incredibly as the characters reveal themselves to be more and more complex. And while everyone else implodes around her, Dora kind of sails through unscathed. Exactly how is a bit of a mystery. I thought she’d be dead long before the end.
The characters really made this story for me. Yes, there was suspense. But it was the effect of the strain on each character that made this a really enjoyable novel. It’s not one of her best, apparently, but it was a lot more accessible to me than Under the Net and so a good starting point for her work, I think.
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