It's Derby Day and all of England is heading for the Epsom Downs. Society beauties rub shoulders with Whitechapel street girls, as every class of society gathers with high hopes and taut nerves for the greatest race of the year.
All through winter, from London to France, plans have been laid, money exchanged, disputes begun. And uniting the destinies of old Mr Gresham and his tigerish daughter, the rakish Mr Happerton and his crony Captain Raff, brooding Mr Davenant, Mr Pardew the burglar and detective Captain McTurk is the champion horse Tiberius.
In this rich and exuberant novel, rife with the idioms of Victorian England, the mysteries pile high, propelling us towards the day of the great race, and we wait with bated breath as the story gallops to a finish that no one expects.
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2011.
Recommend this book
Add your recommendation
Only registered users can recommend books. Please use the buttons below to either create a new account, or sign-in to an existing account.
Meticulously plotted and written with bouncy confidence... A rattling good yarn - Spectator
Derby Day is a triumphant success...in this unputdownable Victorian romp [Taylor] enjoyably proves himself to be one of the finest of our 21st-century novelists - Financial Times
The novel is richly redolent of the novels of Wilkie Collins, Dickens and Thackeray... The characters who plot and squirm throughout the course of Derby Day are fully rounded and memorably drawn and the atmosphere is palpable. In fact here is an intelligent novel which is also a genuine page-turner. Truly a terrific read - Daily Express
Rich and gorgeous as a plum cake, this is absorbing entertainment indeed - The Times
Taylor, with patient stealth, assembles a ring of enjoyably seedy or unprepossessing figures...What distinguishes it from generic thriller-writing is the author's knowledge of the period - Times Literary Supplement
Taylor has written an exceptionally clever pastiche 19th-century novel with a richness of character that almost matches his models of Dickens and Thackeray - Sunday Times
Derby Day is pitch-perfect... It's enormous fun and meticulously researched and conceived - Guardian
Taylor's great skill is in characterisation... In this accomplished work [he] has effectively captured the mutable nature of this unsettling period - Literary Review
Enjoyable, intelligent and thoroughly entertaining... Highly recommended - Thebookbag
[Taylor's] prose is note-perfect and seems completely natural...Better still, he never forgets the 'mystery' part of that promise on the cover. As the great race approaches, the many strands of the story come together in a way that's wholly satisfying and exciting - Daily Mail
Taylor wears his research lightly but there is no doubt how much effort he has expended... The whole is an engaging drama - escapism of the highest standard - Independent on Sunday
Taylor manages to successfully pastiche a 19th-century mystery novel with this fast paced, enjoyable read - The Times
This is a book to read by the fireside, to be swept along in, to realise - with a start - that hours have gone by...In other words, to rediscover the lost-in-another-world joy of reading. And this book really IS a joy...my favourite book of the year so far - Eastern Daily Press
A delicious, highly intelligent page-turner... With clever, confident plotting and meticulous period details, this is an engrossing and deeply satisfying read - Good book Guide
As you would expect from somebody steeped in Victorian fictional history, Taylor rarely puts a foot wrong...the colourful events which take place on the Downs should delight any racing enthusiast - Racing Post
Taylor’s love and understanding of Victorian melodrama is put to good use in this tangibly detailed and deliciously written pastiche centred on an Epsom Derby swindle - Sunday Telegraph
This is a fictional world in which daughters are ready to bump off their fathers, husbands to exploit their wives, and everyone is happy to chance their assets on the wheel of fortune. It’s a novel that will keep you gripped until the very last furlong - Independent
It is a detective story as gripping as the Victorian novels that inspired it, and is written with narrative flair and a terrific sense of fun - Daily Telegraph
Derby Day will be hard to put down... As ever with Taylor, literary complexities lurk under the smooth surface of a stylish page-turner - Conde Nast Traveller
D.J. Taylor was born in Norwich in 1960. He is a novelist, critic and acclaimed biographer, whose biography of Thackeray was a critically-acclaimed success and whose Orwell: The Life won the Whitbread Biography prize in 2003. His most recent books are Kept: A Victorian Mystery (a Publishers Weekly Book of the Year), Bright Young People: The Rise and Fall of a Generation 1918-1940, and the novels Ask Alice and At the Chime of a City Clock.