Jackson’s Booker-shortlisted book is a real gem. It’s a strange amalgam of fictionalised history, memoir and gothic horror – gothic body horror, come to that.
It takes its genesis in the life of William Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck, 5th Duke of Portland, but rapidly diverges from the accepted record. Using a combination of diary entries and testimonies or statements, the mole-like additions to his home at Welbeck Abbey are described, as is his increasing infirmity. There’s a lovely turn of phrase in the Duke’s private reminiscences, and the reader if left wondering if it’s the result of a poetic soul, or of dementia. (more…)