Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce by Paul Torday

'You really love me don't you?' she said. 'Of course I do.' 'It's hard to tell because you never talk much. You've never really had any fun in your life at all, have you?' 'No, but that's about to change.' Late one summer evening, Wilberforce - rich, young, work-obsessed and self-contained - makes an unexpected detour on the way home from the software company he owns and unwittingly takes the first step on a journey that will change his life. His uncharacteristically impulsive act leads him to the door of Caerlyon Hall, to the vast undercroft beneath it, and the domain of Francis Black, a place where wine, hospitality and affection flow freely. Through Francis, the eccentric and enigmatic owner of Caerlyon, Wilberforce is initiated into a life he could never have imagined: a life rich in the promise of friendship and adventure, where, through his new set of friends, with their shooting parties and stately homes, the possibility of finding acceptance, and even falling in love, seems finally to be within his reach.As his horizon broadens and his heart expands, Wilberforce becomes a willing pupil to Francis's master, and in the cellars of Caerlyon he nurtures a new-found passion for fine wine. But even the finest wine can leave a bitter aftertaste, and Wilberforce will learn that the undercroft holds some unpalatable secrets, and that passion comes at a price. Chronicling the vintage years of Wilberforce's life, The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce is a dazzling, haunting story of obsession and addiction, of loyalty and betrayal.

I don't know why, but I really liked this story. It's not anything very special story-line wise, it just follows one man's life path (admittedly backwards) of change and self-destruction. But, I think there's a sad honestly in just how far-fetched your life could seem in 5 years from now, depending on the choices you made.

Spoiler Alert: I was particularly disappointed that Torday, while merely alluding to the possible family connection between Francis Black & Wilberforce, didn't tie up that loose end nicely at the end. Was he, wasn't he? Me, I like a good twisty conclusion, myself ;)

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K.M. said...

I've just finished that book. I thought the ending was quite bizarre, and the last few sentences were some of the worst I've ever read in any novel. However, I did enjoy the structure of the novel and the story. What a sad character Wilberforce was.

phillygirl said...

@dbawiw - yeah, he is a rather sad character ... but you have to wonder how he might've turned out had he never stopped by the undercroft that day. And if that's all life is, random turning points that we remain completely unaware of :)

K.M. said...

The idea that one's life could be turned around so completely in so short a time frame is terrifying. Perhaps it's just melodrama, though. I didn't read his first novel...did you? If so, would you recommend it?

phillygirl said...

@dbawiw - nope, haven't read salmon fishing yet, but was keen to before this one came out and still am :) will naturally share my thoughts on it here if I do read it sometime.

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