Thursday, May 16, 2013


Original Publication Date:1908                                     
Genre: classic, satire                                                                         Topics: mistaken identity, farce, art


Review by: Liz Inskip-Paulk (

It's  been a long while since I have leisurely browsed the library shelves, and so I happened to wander over to the B section just to see what was there on offer. I came across a few copies of Arnold Bennett's writing, and since I really enjoyed "The Wives' Tale" a while back, I saw this one and checked it out. It was an  older book edition, it had yellowing pages and the font was perfect so if it ended up being a good story to boot, then it was win-win-win :-).
Bennett was a prolific writer and wrote everything from novels to self-help so there is a lot to choose from (on-line). The pickings at our library were slim, but not everyone is quite the fan of writers such as Bennett and I get that. I was not familiar with this title, but felt comfortable checking it out after reading the jacket, and so I settled down one rare rainy Saturday last weekend for a good read. It was pretty much a “perfect read for a perfect time” type of situation which ended up being…perfect! Ha.

Written as satire, Buried Alive is a shortish novel that focuses on Priam Farll, a world famous painter who is very shy and happiest out of the limelight. When Henry Leek, the painter’s valet, dies unexpectedly, Priam seizes the opportunity to change identities with his unknown (and now dead) assistant and retreat to a much valued quiet life. At first, it was just an impulsive lark to do so, but as time continues and events start to get more complicated, the story picks up speed.

World-famous as painter Priam Farll is, his face is not well known due to his reclusive life (although this lifestyle was becoming hard to maintain as more and more people wanted to meet him and his social requirements picked up). As he becomes more famous, more was expected of him, and so when Henry Leek, the butler dies in bed one day, it’s a decision of a moment for Priam to assume his identity (and his quieter life) – and thus Priam’s life changes for ever.

This is a quick read and a light-hearted novel focusing on the old standby of mistaken identity, dead bodies and turnkey moments in someone’s life. And yet, trite as that may sound, this was also a great read – it’s not a demanding narrative, but if you’re just looking for a solidly good read that’s hard to put down, then you’ll be happy with Buried Alive. It’s not deep; it’s not provocative; it’s not packed with lots of big words, but it is an enjoyable way to spend some time.

Download Buried Alive by Arnold Bennett at Project Gutenberg|