The Resurrectionist by James Bradley

About the book

London, 1826. Leaving behind his father’s tragic failures, Gabriel Swift arrives to study with Edwin Poll, the greatest of the city’s anatomists. It is his chance to find advancement by making a name for himself. But instead he finds himself drawn to his master’s nemesis, Lucan, the most powerful of the city’s resurrectionists and ruler of its trade in stolen bodies. Dismissed by Mr Poll, Gabriel descends into the violence and corruption of London’s underworld, a place where everything and everyone is for sale, and where – as Gabriel discovers – the taking of a life is easier than it might seem.

Reviewed by Page Turners Reading Group:

This book, whilst dealing with a morbid subject, did generate much discussion around large issues such as medical ethics, what is ‘the soul’, reality of life in the early 19th Century. We found the book well written but the ‘hero’ was weak and frustrating.

Star rating: **

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2 thoughts on “The Resurrectionist by James Bradley”

  1. Review by Bookworms Reading Group:
    Dark brooding little depth – by some. Good writing in parts – a depressing and uncomfortable read – but promoted much discussion.
    Star rating: **

  2. Review by Monday, Monday Book Club:
    This gave rise to lots of discussion covering fatalism, wasted opportunities and ethics. Did Gabriel waste his chances due to his subconscious feelings of guilt that he was the cause of his mother’s death, and will his penance ever be done?
    The style of writing was universally praised – it was lyrical and used the language of the era to transport the reader. There was also some discussion as to how the use of the first person, the shortness of the “sections” and the sometimes disjointed flow, using snapshots of scenes – created a very personal view, almost like an opium dream rather than a diary, as first person narrative often is.
    The main theme of death (or rather, death within poverty) reduced the enjoyment of the book for some, who found it just too grim and unrelenting. It was even described by one as “morbid over-intellectualisation”.
    The ending also generated quite a few ideas. Was it a sad, gentle story with a grim prologue, or a grim story with a gentle epilogue? The bird motif throughout was also significant, but we could only hypothesise what point Bradley was trying to make with it. Was it the vulnerability of the life thread, or envy of freedom?
    Scores all round were pretty high, despite some not enjoying the book.
    Rating: 3 Stars

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