Derby Day by D J Taylor - review by Tom Williams

Tom Williams

A Day At The Races

Derby Day

By

Chatto & Windus 405pp £17.99 order from our bookshop
 

The Epsom Derby ‘makes a break in our overworked lives; and effects a beneficial commingling of classes’. So observed Gustave Doré and Blanchard Jerrold in 1872, and D J Taylor quotes them before the climactic chapter of Derby Day. It is one of many citations referenced in the novel: others include extracts from etiquette manuals, contemporary journalism and travel-writing, and all add up to showcase Taylor’s immersion in his Victorian setting.

The novel is built around the plotting and foul play of its characters as they anticipate the day of the Derby, and in particular, the success or failure of the race favourite, Tiberius. The unifying hook of the approaching race-day allows Taylor to involve a broad ‘commingling’ of

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