EXCEPT: Imagine my surprise then, when I found that the selection of Robert Browning’s poetry I had been so thrilled to find had been defaced on the flyleaf. I am usually careful enough to flip through a book before I buy it, but in this instance the pages had stuck together and that prevented me from noticing the inscription on my cursory examination in the shop. As far as I had been able to tell, the book was in mint condition; there were no signs of wear, no price clipping or creases on the spine, and certainly no tell-tale coffee rings on the cover. In fact, it looked as if it had never been read.
Curious, I sipped some more ale and flipped open the flyleaf so that I might read the offending scribble:
You know you want to read Browning’s poetry. ‘My Last Duchess’ and ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ in particular. ‘The Ring and The Book’ too perhaps, though that one is rather long and much abbreviated here. No poet quite captures adultery, betrayal and the act of murder the way Browning does. Try this:
a thing to do, and all her hair,
in one long yellow string I wound
three times her little throat around,
and strangled her. No pain felt she;
I am quite sure she felt no pain.’
Then she is his forever. Don’t you just love that? Doesn’t it sound like fun? I know that I would enjoy it. And don’t forget our little bargain. The time is fast approaching!
Happy reading Miss Scott!
ABOUT THIS BOOK: Retired Cambridge professor Donald Aitcheson loves scouring antiquarian bookshops for secondhand treasures—as much as he loathes the scribbled marginalia from their previous owners. But when he comes upon an inscription in a volume of Robert Browning’s poetry, he’s less irritated than disturbed. This wasn’t once a gift to an unwitting woman. It was a threat—insidious, suggestively sick, and terribly intriguing.
Now Aitcheson’s imagination is running wild. Was it a sordid teacher-pupil affair that ended in betrayal? A scorned lover’s first salvo in a campaign of terror? The taunt of an obsessive psychopath? Then again, it could be nothing more than a tasteless joke between friends.
As his curiosity gets the better of him, Aitcheson can’t resist playing detective. But when his investigation leads to a remote girls’ boarding school in the Lincolnshire flatlands, and into the confidence of its headmistress, he soon discovers the consequences of reading between the lines.
MY THOUGHTS: There is a lot packed into this novella. It is interesting, fast-paced, and had an outcome I never ever envisaged. The characters are well rounded, especially for something so short, and the plot well developed. I was more than satisfied with this novella.
THE AUTHOR: Peter Robinson was born in Yorkshire. After getting his BA Honours Degree in English Literature at the University of Leeds, he came to Canada and took his MA in English and Creative Writing at the University of Windsor, with Joyce Carol Oates as his tutor, then a PhD in English at York University. He has taught at a number of Toronto community colleges and universities and served as Writer-in-Residence at the University of Windsor, 1992-93.
DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of Seven Years by Peter Robinson, narrated by Greg Patmore, and published by Blackstone Audio. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile or the about page on sandysbookaday.com
This review and others are also published on https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3224583835