Derby Day by D.J. Taylor Online

Derby Day
Title : Derby Day
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780701183592
Language : English
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : None

As the shadows lengthen over the June grass, all England is heading for Epsom Down high life and low life, society beauties and White chapel street girls, bookmakers and gypsies, hawkers and thieves. Hopes are high, nerves are taut, hats are tossed in the air this is Derby Day.For months people have been waiting and plotting for this day. Everyone s eyes are on champion hoAs the shadows lengthen over the June grass, all England is heading for Epsom Down high life and low life, society beauties and White chapel street girls, bookmakers and gypsies, hawkers and thieves. Hopes are high, nerves are taut, hats are tossed in the air this is Derby Day.For months people have been waiting and plotting for this day. Everyone s eyes are on champion horse Tiberius, on whose performance half a dozen destinies depend. In this rich and exuberant novel, rife with the idioms of Victorian England, the mysteries pile high, propelling us toward the day of the great race, and we wait with bated breath as the story gallops to a finish that no one expects.


Derby Day Reviews

  • Elaine

    The only "mystery" in this book (despite the billing) is why I read the whole (quite lengthy) thing. The book is structured as if it were a complex puzzle, and you read it, accordingly, with extremely close attention to detail at the beginning, but eventually it becomes evident that there is no mystery to be solved and that the book's multitude of narratives won't come together, but will simply end. All the characters are trite -- the rogue, the down on his luck scion of a good family, the roman [...]

  • Pixie Dust

    I had mixed feelings about this Booker-nominated novel. I was initially quite excited to read it. Historical fiction set in the Victorian era with a mystery thrown in. What’s not to like? And indeed, there’s certainly something very mature and polished in Taylor’s writing, with the style approximating late Victorian writing rather closely. But the similes and metaphors that were at first so entertaining with their wittiness soon grew rather tiresome, as there is too much in the same style. [...]

  • Felice

    Ahhhh… Victorian novels. What don’t I love about them? Certainly not their size. Those Victorians wrote some chubby books God bless them. The time period, the plots, I love it all. Every once in a while you find a contemporary writer who can produce a Victorian novel: The Quincunx by Charles Palliser, Fingersmith by Sarah Waters and The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber come to mind. Now add to that list Derby Day by D.J. Taylor. The heroes of Derby Day are author D.J. Taylor for w [...]

  • Kirsty Darbyshire

    I enjoyed reading this but am not quite sure what to make of it. It's billed as a "Victorian mystery" but didn't really seem to contain many elements of a mystery to me as it's a fairly straightforward story of misdoings in the horse racing world. It's written in some kind of Victorian style which I don't know enough about to talk about - I don't know whether it's a pastiche or satire or something else like that. It's an entertaining enough story on the surface but I suspect I am missing the dep [...]

  • Gayla Bassham

    This book is written in a very fun and engaging way and you will most likely have a rollicking good time while reading it. Having said that, I could not escape a feeling at the end that there was no there there. Entertaining but ultimately (I suspect) forgettable. But the ride is thoroughly enjoyable for as long as it lasts.

  • Romily

    This is a skilful and subtly ironic re-working of a Victorian novel. The main difference is that the plot, centring round the betting and speculation on horses leading up to the Epsom Derby is tightly controlled with very few digressions, except where the author wants to set the scene - especially that of Derby Day itself, which uses the panoramic painting by Frith for inspiration. There are obvious and intentional echoes of Dickens and other Victorian novelists in the characters and description [...]

  • JohnBellamy

    Surely we are living in a new Silver Age of the Victorian sensational novel, and long may it continue. There have been many superlative entries in this happily revived genre—the works of Caleb Carr, Sarah Waters, Michael Cox and Clare Clark come to mind—but D. J. Taylor seems to have set the gold standard with Derby Day. Part mystery, part crime novel and utterly a suspense thriller, it owes much to its many Victorian models—the works of Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, the Bronte sisters, [...]

  • Linda

    If you loved Bleak House and other Dickens novels, you will enjoy Derby Day. Taylor presents a cast of characters who are all interconnected by a horse Tiberius, who is destined to run the race at Epsom in 1866. Taylorplays homage to Dickens and I enjoyed the novel immensely.

  • Bookslut

    I give this a two with reservations; it significantly undershot my expectations. Taylor's earlier novel, Kept, was brilliant. This was a lot of polish and pizazz without much of a book underneath. Glitzy, schmaltzy writing that could never make me care about what was happening. The subtitle is a misnomer. Unless I really misunderstood the whole book, there is no mystery. The reader is well-informed at all points in the straightforward story. So well, in fact, that I thought I must be missing som [...]

  • Jessica

    Having finished Derby Day, I can say that it's a solid detective story in the vein of Dickens, with a cast of dozens of colorful British charactersa governess, a spurned blue-stocking wife, a "sporting man" who's a cad, old lawyers, canny housemaids, etc. The writing was engaging enough that I did not mind learning how about horse-racing, a subject that did not greatly interest me before. Will try to find other books by this writer.

  • Kathleen

    Just the mention of a Victorian style of novel populated by nefarious characters, the rich horsey-set among other people had my interest. It was the culminating Derby at Epsom that sealed the deal be read and enjoyed without delay!

  • Beth

    Unexpectedly engrossing Victorian-style novel that made me want to read The Quincunx again. Don't miss this one even if you have no interest whatsoever in horse racing. I didn't remember this being on the Booker longlist last year, but the nomination was well-deserved.

  • Harriet

    This was a delightful book, well written with a charming voice about horse racing in the late 1800's. The characters are well drawn and interesting particularly Rebecca and Mr. Happerton, but all of them are unique in their own way. The period is beautifully portrayed.

  • Carey Combe

    Trite, unpleasant characters - none of which I could be bothered to find out more about.

  • Bibliophile

    It feels like forever since I started this neo-Victorian tale of horse racing and financial swindles but it actually only took me three weeks (and some side reading) to get through it. D J Taylor captures the language of a 19th century novel but without the vivid characters and startling coincidences of Dickens, Derby Day just didn't work as well as I'd hoped. Mrs Happerton clearly has her literary antecedents in Becky Sharp, but even she doesn't rise to the heights of Thackeray's great protagon [...]

  • Caro

    Yes, it's a Victorian mystery, but not in the way you might think. A host of characters - the weak widower gently decaying in the depths of the country, the steely young wife of the rather louche sporting gentleman, the unfortunate Captain Raff (who's raffish indeed), along with a governess, a jewel thief, the horse Tiberius and assorted racetrack habitues - are the main event, though the plot is suitably intricate. To call it great fun makes it sound trivial, and it's anything but. Highly recom [...]

  • Bonsai

    Very rarely do I give up on a book entirely, this was one of them. So utterly boring, confused and WTF that I simply stopped wasting my time.

  • Cynthia

    Well written story.

  • Margaret P

    Oh what a great read! I seem to have taken a long time to read it though possibly because its so descriptive and has many differing threads and characters through the story.

  • Nancy Oakes

    Although several people following this year's entries on the Booker Prize Longlist may not agree on its placement on the list, I don't really give a toss. Derby Day is a fun and entertaining novel, and provides for a few hours of total escape. It's a good book, and I rather enjoyed it. Like his book Kept (which I read some time ago and really enjoyed), Derby Day is subtitled "A Victorian Mystery," and there is enough intrigue and foul play scattered throughout the novel's 400+ pages to keep a my [...]

  • Angharad

    For a book that was listed (whether long or short) for a literary prize I did actually enjoy this. I particularly enjoyed the Classical references that were scattered (mainly horses) and the odd Norfolk reference (though i doubt many people will know where the Wensum is). However, there was some editorial/continuity issues, which if you're reading it every so often you probably wouldn't notice, but I read it in two halves so did. This was a small irritant, mainly because this was long listed for [...]

  • Briynne

    This was a wonderful, charming book. The author is a William Makepeace Thackeray biographer, and his affection for his subject is widely felt throughout the novel. He manages Thackeray’s blend of comedy and social commentary beautifully without ever seeming like he is imitating. The novel, as the title suggests, centers around the lives of several “sporting gentlemen” and their wives, associates, enemies, and victims in the months leading up to the year’s biggest horse race. I loved the [...]

  • Jaclyn Day

    A few years ago I made a pact with myself that if I wasn’t enjoying a book, I’d stop reading it and move on to the next. Before that I’d had a hard time stopping a book midway through, even when I hated what I was reading. I figured that I owed it to someone (the author? myself?) to see it through to completion.Well, I almost gave up Derby Day. I read it faithfully every night and each time, I’d tell Brandon, “I don’t know how much more of this I can read.” Yet, despite my silly pa [...]

  • Jo-anne Atkinson

    In Victorian England the Epsom Derby was the race that the entire country looked forward to each year. Assiduously following the form and reports about the horses and their owners, fortunes were won or lost on the result and the the best horse didn't always win the race. One of the favourites for the race is Tiberius, owned by an impoverished Lincolnshire gentleman called Davenant. However Mr Davenant's debts mean that Tiberius falls into the hands of Mr Happerton, recently married to the only d [...]

  • Brittany

    You know how you shouldn't go to the grocery when you're really hungry because you come home with frozen burritos and spicy salami and other things you'd never ordinarily order and won't actually consume once you stave off the ravening edge of starvation? Maybe the library is the same way. I went to the library in a bit of a reading slump, and saw this book sitting on the shelf with a bunch of other horse novels (most of which I had already read.) It had horses on the cover, referenced a race in [...]

  • Catherine Woodman

    I read this book because it was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2011, and I had yet to read it.The story is set in London and environs during a few weeks in the reign of Queen Victoria, it is not merely a work of historical fiction but one written in a language appropriate to its time — i.e it is a Victorian novel. It is fun and can be read purely as such, yet it is also a serious novel about a society caught between the familiar and the new, in which “the world is changing” and le [...]

  • Tonymess

    Since the days of Adam, there has been hardly a mischief done in this world but a woman has been at the bottom of it. “Barry Lyndon” William Makepeace ThackerayThis is not a quote used in "Derby Day", but a pertinent one I think! It is not just the acknowledgement and a couple of quotes from Thackeray that shows D.J. Taylor’s affinity and connection with the 19th Century novelist.Plans were all in place to have this one read and reviewed just prior to the Victoria Racing Club Derby that wa [...]

  • Dody

    I love Wilkie Collins and Derby Day was a well written Victorian pastiche. I loved it and finished it in two days. It was indeed, for me, a page turner. I do think you have to like this sort of book, I am reminded of The Quincunx and would stress this is the nature of the book. Some of the reviewers do not think there was a mystery. I don't agree. There was indeed a mystery which was the entirety of the plot and while it wasn't an Agatha Christy sort of "who done it," you know who is doing what [...]

  • Kay

    Ah, there's nothing like the Victorian novel for soothing the blood while stimulating the mind. Taylor clearly acknowledges that one of his protagonists, Rebecca Gresham, is cut from the same cloth as Thackeray's Becky Sharpe. Like Becky, Rebecca is fascinating, no matter how the reader disapproves of her cold, calculating ways. The story proceeds at a stately but relentless pace to Derby Day, when the outcome will determine the fate of nearly everyone in the book. All the color--and squalor--of [...]

  • Sheri

    The cover labels this "a Victorian mystery" and that's just what it is: Set in Victorian England with a large and wonderfully odd set of characters and a plot that centers on an up-and-coming self-made schemer who wants to be a rich gentleman by means of marriage, a sponsored burglary, forcing others into poverty, and a thrown horse race. Nicely written, clever and often very witty, with plenty of entertaining little asides from period racing publications, guides to Victorian etiquette, and inst [...]