A Very Brief Book Review

I've been reading The Club Of Queer Trades by G.K. Chesterton (so you don't have to). I confess I like it. I have an affinity for Victorian Era writers and characters. They are so foreign yet familiar. It's the language I think. Note the word queer in the title. They use the same words we do but they have different meanings. The book is a series of short mysteries. The protagonist is Basil Grant. He's the Sherlock Holmes figure with several friends filling in for Watson. The club is explained as follows:

"The nature of this society, such as we afterwards discovered it to be, is soon and simply told. It is an eccentric and Bohemian Club, of which the absolute condition of membership lies in this, that the candidate must have invented the method by which he earns his living. It must be an entirely new trade. The exact definition of this requirement is given in the two principal rules. First, it must not be a mere application or variation of an existing trade...Secondly, the trade must be a genuine commercial source of income, the support of its inventor. "

They are entertaining and well written but formulaic. Each story follows the following form:

1. Person acting strangely presents themselves in some form or fashion to Basil and his compatriots.
2. They say or do something outrageous. Basil immediately divines the truth behind the events while the Watson characters declare either the "game to be afoot" or that the person is indeed "mad."
3. They realize Basil knows all and prod him for an explanation. He declines and leads them on an exciting chase to somewhere else
4. Basil explains all and the strangely acting person is admitted to the Club Of Queer Trades!

The stories themselves aren't nearly as interesting as the language and the characters. The way they speak and behave is very interesting as it encapsulates the Victorians in amber.

Recommended for fans of Victorian Era stories, everyone else, not so much.


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