Sunday, 25 November 2012

A Rich Full Death by Michael Dibdin

A Rich Full DeathA Rich Full Death by Michael Dibdin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Michael Dibdin remains one of my favorite authors even though I sometimes find his plots and characterizations frustrating. Dibdin’s was a career cut too short. Whenever I see a Dibdin book out in e-book format, I order it. I know that whatever else I find, it will be literately and beautifully written. I’ve waded happily through his wonderful Aurelio Zen series. The Zen character is uneven, but the prose is so masterful that one doesn’t care. Dibdin’s descriptive passages are second to none.

So when I ordered “A Rich Full Death”, I had high expectations. This book is such a departure from everything of Dibdin’s I’ve read, that at one point I went back to make sure it was actually Dibdin I was reading.
A Rich Full Death is set in Florence in the mid-eighteen hundreds and is told entirely through letters to “My Dear Prescott” from “Booth”. The “Booth” in question is pictured as a fairly young man, one living in Florence on an allowance from his father, enjoying the small enclave of ex-pat British who made Florence their home, among them and a principal character in the story, poet Robert Browning. To all lovers of Browning I say immediately, you must read this book for its fascinating re-creation of the famous poet, which often uses his own words as dialogue.

A Rich Full Death is a mystery story. In the lush setting of Florence and the surrounding countryside, Dibdin takes us through Dante’s circles of hell. It is a fascinating and surprising story, with the title making sense only in the last few pages. I had to read the last chapter twice to fully understand just what Dibdin had done. It is, to say the least, a surprising ending.

This is thinking man’s or woman’s book. It is redolent of the artistic and literary Italy of the times. I recommend it highly but it is not for everyone. I suspect Dibdin wrote it mainly for himself. And he probably had a grand time doing so.

View all my reviews


I currently have three novels and one short story. I hope you will add them to your reading list and let me know if you enjoy them.

 • Abigails Christmas (short story) ~ An enchanting tale of love and romance, with a magical touch of fantasy.
Abigail's Christmas is a holiday story about Abigail who goes looking for a tree on Christmas Eve, and ends up with the man of her dreams in a sleigh in the Rockies --- with a wedding in the offing! Is it real?  Is she dreaming?  Or is it just Christmas magic?

 • The Memory of Roses ~ The enduring love story of two generations of the McQuaid family unfolds on the beautiful Greek Island of Corfu. It is a tale complete with beautiful and passionate women, handsome and fiery men, and an intriguing mystery.

 • Delighting In Your Company ~ Delighting In Your Company is a paranormal romance set on an exotic Caribbean island, featuring a handsome ghost and an adventurous heroine who travels back in time to solve a mystery!

 • Sonata ~ Sayuri McAllister has just arrived home to Vancouver to find a robbery has taken place at her family home, and it is being investigated by her old flame;
 ~ Alyssa James who she barely knows, is about to become her new stepmother; ~ and Alyssa’s brother, Hugh James, is a charming Irishman who is intent on bedding and wedding Sayuri. It’s a confusing and difficult time for Sayuri, especially when dangerous accidents happen to her father and herself – or are they accidents?

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Blair McDowell