I'm conflicted about what to post about this book. It was terrible, but luckily a quick read. Most frustrating about this novella is that it truly had potential.
First a quick summary, William, an elderly dying earl, begins keeping a diary at his grandson's urging. Inadvertently, he ends up writing about family secrets -- past and present.
Okay -- plot was one of my biggest issues so be prepared for SPOILERS......
First of all, everyone in Victorian times did not have lustful secrets. In the 150 page book we have father/daughter incest, a sixteen year old having sex with a farm hand, a mother weirdly seducing her son and talking about her extramarital affair, homosexuality (not usually a problem for me, but I hate it when homosexuality is reduced down to sex), and an eight year-old having oral sex with a fifteen year old boy.
Of course, these themes of sexual repression leading to sexual acting out has been done before in novels. A.S. Byatt's Angels and Insects come to mind. The difference between Byatt's novella and Rayfiel's work is that Byatt's characters are rich in many other aspects and the sexual depravity is limited to a few characters. EVERYONE is not subject to humping anything that moves. So that was the first strike for this book -- too much unbelievable sexual happenings.
What might have saved the book - believe it or not - would be if the book was longer. The characters, although interesting, lacked development. Also, the book felt like it was short due to author laziness as opposed to the completion of the tale.
Like I said, an easy and quick read, but I will never get that hour and a half back.