« Joss JOS48 Pool Cue Ostart 22pcs Mixed Aluminum Handle Crochet Hook Knitting Knit Needle Weave Yarn Set » 3 thoughts on “Domino” 12 of 12 people found the following review helpful Painterly masquerade, September 8, 2003 By Lynn Harnett (Marathon, FL USA) – This review is from: Domino (Hardcover) Narrator George Cautley is an old man at the opening of this lush, dense story of 18th century London, King’s first novel (written before his bestsellers, “Ex-Libris” and “Brunelleschi’s Dome”). At a masquerade ball Cautley captures a young man’s attention with the portrait miniature of a beautiful woman known as Lady Beauclair. Cautley offers to tell the boy his – and her – story, a tale of innocence and masquerade, deception, jealousy and corruption, that ends, Cautley says, with his becoming a murderer.Cautley’s narrative is actually two life histories, 50 years apart. His tale begins with his arrival in London in 1770 at age 17, and the second, Lady Beauclair’s story of the operatic castrato Tristano, takes place 50 years earlier and is told to Cautley as Beauclair sits for her portrait. Yes, this becomes confusing, but the reader’s disorientation is part of the fun, dovetailing playfully with King’s themes of elusive identity, perception and deceptive appearance.Cautley comes to London seeking his fortune as a portrait painter. The orphaned son of a country parson, he is earnest, naïve, clumsy, ambitious, and a bit of a prig. A potent combination. Taken by his rich friend Toppie to one of the masquerades so popular at the time, Cautley is relieved of what little money he has by a set of genial card sharps who gladly lend him more. His resulting insurmountable debt turns out to be his best luck, as the lender is none other than the man Cautley has been trying to meet, the famous portrait painter Sir Endymion Starker.Later at the same party Cautley becomes disoriented by the numerous passageways, and is rescued by a glamorous costumed lady who bears a startling resemblance to a portrait he has just been admiring on the wall. Lady Beauclair invites Cautley to paint her portrait and hear the life story of the old man in the garden whose curious plight has caught Cautley’s eye.Beauclair’s lodgings are in a decrepit, even dangerous part of town, but her rooms are elegant and her portrait costume most provocative. As her dress slips down her shoulder and the light from a single candle dances over her artfully painted face, she relates the sad, passionate story of the impoverished Italian boy who became one of the greatest singers in Italy in the 1720s. Cautley, entranced by Beauclair’s aspect, (“the face that, as its vizard was removed, tallied in every point with my youthful standard of beauty”) intimidated by her boldness, and in awe of her mystery, disregards some of the more doubtful elements of her allure.Meanwhile, Cautley discharges his gambling debt to Starker, the great painter, by becoming his temporary apprentice. Starker has two studios – his big fashionable public address, where the rich come to have their portraits painted – and his secret, shabby bolt-hole where he keeps an angry mistress and paints his “true” art.Beauclair takes Tristano toward his fate in the London opera houses, Cautley succumbs to a corrosive jealousy, and Starker reveals himself (in Cautley’s judging eyes) to be a hypocrite in matters of love as well as art. Every straightforward drama and intrigue is draped and shadowed with mystery, illusion and doubt. Identities are obscured by costumes and masks, and motives are similarly cloaked. Much of the narrative takes place at the elaborate masquerades popular at the time (and 50 years earlier), where lords dressed like buxom serving maids or lusty soldiers and ladies wore the raiments of goddesses or shepherdesses. And those with real secrets wore dominos, the simple robe which hides form, figure and face.King’s writing is painterly. Paragraphs hurtle through teeming crowds and elaborate costumes and extravagant decadence as he immerses the reader in the period. There’s fascinating detail on the lives of the castrati, the rigid demarcations of class, and attitudes toward art, music and morality, public and private. Hypocrisy and deception abound.Though beautifully written, with an intriguing, suspenseful plot and vivid historical detail, the novel has a few minor plot flaws (why, for instance, would a prominent and wealthy painter bother fleecing an impoverished country bumpkin?) and a larger character flaw. Cautley, the naïf who becomes corrupted by his doubts, is not that likable to begin with and he diminishes through experience. Lady Beauclair is fascinating but ultimately unknowable and Tristano, barely glimpsed in the flesh, is more pawn than power. In other words, there are no heroes in King’s elusive and colorful world. But it’s a fascinating, evocative world and King’s prose is pure pleasure. 0 Help other customers find the most helpful reviews Was this review helpful to you? | Comment Reply 11 of 13 people found the following review helpful Domino falls flat, May 8, 2004 By R. Chance “ex libris” (Maryland) – This review is from: Domino (Hardcover) This novel is rich with historical and period detail and many of the passages in the book are beautifully written. There are also some very funny scenes throughtout. Yet it is a difficult story to follow and many aspects of it are just implausible. It really lacks a plot and never solves the mystery. If you love historical fiction then this book might hold your interest, but much of the book just does not make sense. 0 Help other customers find the most helpful reviews Was this review helpful to you? | Comment (1) Reply 7 of 8 people found the following review helpful A Great Disappointment, March 16, 2006 By zsuzsanna22 “from San Francisco, CA” (Auckland, New Zealand) – This review is from: Domino (Paperback) I really wanted to like this book. I am a great fan of historical fiction and have enjoyed some of Ross King’s later books, particularly “Michaelangelo and The Pope’s Ceiling”. I struggled through to the middle of “Domino” before I finally gave up on it, deciding that there are too many other good books to waste anymore time on this one. The major flaw in “Domino” is that there is not a single likeable character in the story. Neither is there someone despicable enough to hold the reader’s attention. In this, his first book, Ross King doesn’t give the reader any reason to care about the fate of the characters. The supposed mystery is a Domino itself – a trumped up, unimportant story masquerading as a fascinating life story that is not even interesting. I recommend that if you like Ross King, read his later books. He seems to have developed a lot after this one. 0 Help other customers find the most helpful reviews Was this review helpful to you? | Comment Reply Leave a comment Cancel replyYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Name * Email * Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.