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The Underground Man Audio Cassette – Sep 1 2003

4.3 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Isis Audio; Unabridged edition (Sept. 1 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753104822
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753104828
  • Product Dimensions: 22.4 x 16.3 x 3.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
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Product Description

From Library Journal

Through a fictional journal, Jackson constructs a portrait of William John Cavendish-Bentinck-Scott, fifth Duke of Portland (d. 1879), a prodigious eccentric best known for the elaborate network of tunnels he built beneath his estate. The duke is portrayed as a repressed hypochondriac, an old man morbidly curious about the workings of his body and mind. During the months encompassed by the novel, he grows increasingly obsessed with the fleeting bits of memory that intrude upon his ruminations and hint at some horrific, long-buried secret. A prime example of the psychological bent of the contemporary British neo-Gothic novel, this first novel from a British filmmaker and teacher of creative writing explores the darker fringes of consciousness. A subdued, though peculiarly compelling, tale.?Lawrence Rungren, Merrimack Valley Lib. Consortium, Andover, Mass.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Jackson bases his novel on stories told about the eccentric fifth duke of Portland, who died in 1879. The title refers to the elaborate network of tunnels the duke had built beneath his Nottinghamshire estate--20 miles of tunnels large enough for him to traverse in a horse-drawn carriage. But the tunnels are only one manifestation of the duke's oddball behavior. He's a hypochondriac with what seems like hundreds of different obsessions. At first, the duke appears to be nothing more than a harmless crackpot, partly because entries from his own journal provide the vehicle for most of the narration. But gradually the duke's account of himself grows more disturbing. Jackson also supplies us with other voices--the whole troop of servants and helpers who respectfully carry out the duke's wishes and serve his meals and keep the estate running while he goes off on his weird tangents. These other points of view help the reader see how truly out of touch with reality the duke is. Jackson constructs his tale with skill, so the duke remains human and moving throughout, despite his madness. Mary Ellen Quinn --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By ronbc TOP 500 REVIEWER on Nov. 17 2014
Format: Paperback
William John Cavendish-Bentinck-Scott, Fifth Duke of Portland, was seriously weird.

His unusual renovations to Welbeck Abbey, the family manor house, were notorious in his day. Employing hundreds of local workers and craftsmen, the Duke constructed a warren of tunnels connecting the house with the stables, the coach road, and even the railway station in town.

Intensely shy, the secretive Duke was rarely seen by most of his staff, who were instructed to ignore him, pretending that he wasn’t there, unless he spoke to them first. When he traveled to London, he rode in a coach through his maze of tunnels, emerging only at the station, where a flat car waited to carry his dark-curtained coach to the city.

This strange nobleman and his mental deterioration are the subjects of The Underground Man, Mick Jackson’s highly-fictionalized study of a singular Victorian character, which was a Booker Prize finalist after the novel’s publication in 1997.

I never would have heard of either the Duke or the novel if I had not been reading Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island, which contains an account of Bryson’s visit to Welbeck Abbey, where he attempted, unsuccessfully, to tour what was at the time of his visit a British military training facility. Bryson’s fascination with the Duke and his story led me to search out the novel.

The Underground Man is a work of imaginary fiction, with little reference to the Duke’s actual history, other than his tunneling. It reimagines the Duke’s life from the completion of the tunnels to his death. Although Jackson includes infrequent accounts from the servants, the Duke’s journal provides most of the novel’s content.
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Format: Paperback
The book is based on the life of William John Cavendish Bentinck-Scott, the Duke of Portland and a resident of Nottinghamshire, England. The Duke of Portland was one of Victorian England's most famous eccentrics, who built a series of underground tunnels large enough for carriages and horses, that enabled him to move around his vast property. Although some of the book is based on facts, Mick Jackson admitted to have taken downright liberties in writing it.

The novel enfolds in the form of journal entries by the duke himself, and is supplement of various neighbours, servants and service men's accounts of Your Grace. The plot develops around the Duke's observations of the world around him, his somewhat hypochondriac obsession with his body, the steadily degeneration of his mind and his search for something missing in his life. It is drawn to a shocking and somewhat bizarre climax in the end of the novel.

It is beautifully written tragic and comic novel, with a character and plot that won't easily be forgetten.
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Mick Jackson's debut, a part fictional novel based on the life of the Duke of Portland, is one of the best novels I have read this year. It's written in the style of a mystery - the secret is unveiled only in its final pages - and told through the eyes of the protagonist via his journal entries and those around him. Jackson is a brilliant writer - his prose is sharp, witty and even poetic in places and he has that rare ability to hold you spellbound and on knife's edge as you partake in the unraveling of the mystery. There are hints along the way but the secret is preserved right till the very end. A small criticism - I found the middle section dealing with the Duke's hypochondria a little long and slow. This trips up the natural velocity of the plot which otherwise moves briskly along. As if to compensate for this minor hiccup, Jackson's prose tightens up again as he gives a truly unnerving account of the final stages of the Duke's physical breakdown. The sharpness and pinpoint accuracy of this descriptive passage makes your stomach queasy and your knees want to buckle. Jackson's writing is deceptively simple but it hits you right between the eyes. Beautiful. Stay tuned. You will hear and read alot more of him. In the meantime, enjoy this wonderfully sad and terrific novel.
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Format: Paperback
This is an interesting book, about the type of truly eccentric and driven man that can only have been produced by the Victorian aristocracy. It is an interesting mixture of the main character's journal (which is by far the majority of the text) and the observations of the local people and staff on his estate.
It is certainly a fascinating and richly detailed account of what would be considered at any time chronic eccentricity bordering on madness - the endless underground tunnels and odd eating habits alone are enough to convince you of this, but what I feel is a small weakness of the novel is that there is simply not enough external observations of the Duke. Those observations by the house-keeper and the footman etc are little gems of insight, but they are too few.
The prose itself is beautiful, and once again invokes the feeling of the time wonderfully. It is a fine novel, well worth a read.
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By A Customer on April 20 2000
Format: Paperback
I chose to read this book mainly because it had been nominated for the Booker Prize although I know this does not always guarantee a good read.I have to say that I was not too excited about the subject matter before I began reading it and I expected the storyline to be a little silly.However,I am now a devoted Mick Jackson reader due to the beautiful prose throughout the book.I was enthralled by the adventures of the Duke and he made me laugh,cry and even squirm while reading.I agree with the reviewer below however, regarding the hypochondria section-it tended to be quite slow-moving,so I'm only giving it 4 instead of 5 stars.The first half of the book,though, is wonderful and this alone makes it worth buying.The ending,although a little contrived,truly shocked me and I can't get it out of my mind.I look forward to more work from Mick Jackson.
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