The Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin Wood

This book had me at “Part Secret History, part Brideshead Revisited.” The Secret History by Donna Tartt is hands down one of my favorite books – it has the perfect blend of academia, creepy siblings, and the elite. With that kind of review, I immediately snagged an e-galley of Bellwether Revivals, but didn’t get a chance to actually read it until it had hit the shelves of the library and the cover art caught my eye, leading me back to my copy.

Debut novelist Benjamin Wood sets the scene in picturesque Cambridge, moving between the spires and cobbled pathways of King’s College and the lush surrounding countryside that holds the family home of the Bellwethers. The book starts near the end of the story, an ending marked with a cold wind blowing through the grounds of the Bellwether Estate, flashing police lights, and bodies, though we don’t know whose.

And then, as if we had never been a part of that scene, we’re brought back to some previous time, when Oscar, a bookish but working class nurse’s assistant stumbles into the lives of the Bellwethers. Lulled into the college chapel by the melodies of an organ unlike any Oscar has ever heard, he meets Iris Bellwether, sister to the organist, Eden. The Bellwethers exist in a world that Oscar has only glimpsed — one of privilege and academia and, above all, music. The siblings and their small but tight-knit group of friends are similarly intrigued by Oscar’s life in all its job-holding, bill-paying, apartment-dwelling glory.

It is music that brings them together, and music that separates the six. Eden falls deeper and deeper into his own obsessions, believing that his organ gives him the ability to perform miracles. I don’t want to spoil the ending by revealing much more, but as Eden began his downward spiral, I kept thinking back to the opening scene of the book, wondering when and where those bodies would pop back up.

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