Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Book Review: "Betrayals"

Betrayals is the third Charles Palliser book I've read, and the only patten I've been able to pick up from his work is that you never know what you're going to get. Each novel (The Quincunx, The Unburied, and this one) are so different you'd never guess they came from the same pen. Always provocative, slightly bizarre and rich with allusion, Betrayals rises almost to the leve of The Quincunx ... but doesn't quite get there.

This novel is made up of ten short parts, all set in very different times and places and stylistic/narrative differences. With each, however, come clues, innuendoes, and intriguing hints which - eventually - are spun together, creating one vast tangled web of unpleasantness for just about all concerned. It required a great deal of attention, making this a fairly poor choice for reading on the T; I'm sure I missed a level or two of Palliser's complicated labyrinth, and goodness knows how many of his myriad literary references passed me by (I did catch a few at least, and have realized a few more even as I type).

Complex and dark, this novel is apt to inflict wrinkled brows and bouts of compulsive rereading previous chapters once all (or some, at least) is revealed. It'll make you think.