Like Tom Ripley and Dickie Greenleaf in Highsmith’s best-known novel, the central characters in The Bishop’s Bedroom orbit one another like ballroom doppelgängers until it’s difficult to tell who is lying to whom or why ... As Orimbelli decides at one point: 'The earth, like life, can be measured in triangles.' But when this novel reaches its somewhat inconclusive (criminologically speaking) conclusion, one might well add: Measured, O.K., maybe. But understood? Not quite ... Everything the three principal characters have told us sounds equally unreliable. Eventually, there’s a murder, and when the 'solution' finally arrives, it’s impossible to accept at face value or feel that it resolves any of the conflicts brought into the open by a woman’s death. This is a strong, well-written and weirdly seductive little novel about enjoying the small pleasures of life on your own little boat — or pretending that you can live apart from the world you think you’re simply observing, dispassionately, from way up there in 'the bishop’s bedroom.'
The Bishop’s Bedroom is a compact novel that is rich in atmosphere. Chiara explores themes of greed, lust, and power and wraps them in a little murder mystery. The settings are engrossing, from the villages to the house to the islands of Lake Maggiore, Italy. Though the murder mystery aspect takes time to begin—odd in this brief novel—it is well worth the patience.
The Bishop's Bedroom is a bit of a mystery -- there's a death, and, for a while, it's unclear whether it was suicide or murder, but the how-dunnit resolution is not exactly top-tier mystery plotting and writing -- but that's almost only incidental. It's mainly about atmosphere, and the dark -- and/or empty -- layers to Orimbelli and the narrator (with Angelo thrown in for good, if very odd, measure), their murky pasts and unmoored presents ... It makes for a reasonably engaging dark story, certainly livened up by the dramatic deaths that take place, and with a nice melancholy-gloomy shading throughout ... But the pacing is a bit off -- they spend an awful lot of time sailing, under various conditions, and the arrangements with their changing cast of female companions are rather more detailed, boring, and sordid than need be ... Chiara has his talents, but lacks the mystery-writer's finesse with suspense and resolution. The narrator's occasional odd, too-certain pronouncements...also contrast oddly with his general uncertainty about events and people, as the narrative finds itself a bit too often just slightly off-key.
...this hypnotic novel, a mix of thriller and mood piece on the nature of sexual attraction, has finally been translated into English ... It’s a quiet novel, but the suspense is as palpable as the unmistakable echoes of Patricia Highsmith.
First published in 1976 ...the late Italian novelist Chiara's brief masterwork turns insinuation into high art. Beneath the dead calm on the lake and the sensual tranquility of the surrounding villages, darkness lurks, as if the horrors of war went underground ... A first-rate book that is both a moody suspense novel and a haunting allegory.
Chiara’s engrossing novel of loafing lotharios in post-WWII Italy hums with suspense ... Chiara’s atmospheric writing and aching descriptions of desire amplify the effects of the characters’ dubious choices. Readers will be swept away by this lush, gothic-tinged mystery and its unscrupulous characters.