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Music and Silence [Audio]
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As she proved in Restoration, Tremain can write literary historical novels whose period details encompass the social and intellectual currents of their time and place. This dazzlingly imaginative, powerfully atmospheric work is set mainly in 17th-century Denmark. One of the protagonists is English, however, and Tremain captures the sensibilities of natives of both countries. British lutenist Peter Claire arrives in Copenhagen in 1629 to join the orchestra of King Christian IV. Depressed after a doomed love affair with a soulful Irish countess, Peter finds his melancholy mood mirrored by that of the king, who is beset by both financial and marital crises. That fruitless wars and profligate spending by the Danish nobility have depleted the country's coffers is the king's public woe; privately, his heart is anguished by the behavior of his consort, Kristen Munk, who despises her own children, keeps her spouse from her bed and is carrying on with a German mercenary. Recognizing in Peter's handsome countenance a resemblance to a lost childhood friend, Christian declares that Peter is the "angel" who will help solve his personal and national problems. Tremain's complex plot is built in small increments. Excerpts from the brazenly selfish Kirsten's diary alternate with the points of view of dozens of others, including Kirsten's lady-in-waiting Emilia Tilsen. Kirsten deems Emilia irreplaceable and prevents her from openly acknowledging her feelings for Peter. Love--requited and thwarted, healthy and perverted, damaging and healing--is one theme of the novel, represented by six pairs of lovers. Love is inextricably tied to the power to enslave; perhaps it's a form of enchantment, of which another manifestation is music. Tremain builds her narrative via alternating voices blending like the solos of musical instruments. Threading irony among its many leitmotifs (Christian IV, for example, who understands that music can "lead to the divine," subjects his musicians to brutal living conditions), the narrative sweeps to a dramatic crescendo, with several characters in mortal danger and the prospect of tragedy everywhere. Yet it ends in felicitous harmony, a triumph of storytelling by a master of the art. 9-city author tour. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Music and Silence is a wonderful, joyously noisy book." - Steven Poole, The Guardian She is the best historical novelist of her generation. She evokes the past with sensuality, wit and superb sleights of hand." - A. N. Wilson, Evening Standard The delicacy of this haunting, mythical novel is beautifully complemented by the three-voice narration and the intermittent Dowland and Byrd. It creates the mesmerising, unhappy worlds of Christian IV's Denmark, where his musicians play unseen in chilly cellars, and of crazed Count O'Fingal's Ireland, where he pursues a tune heard in his dream. - Rachel Redford, The Observer Rose Tremain is an even more arresting and atmospheric writer than Zafon, and much better at intricate plots. Her Music and Silence is told from three points of view, made more vivid on audio by the use of three narrators: Michael Praed, who projects the eccentric but guilt-haunted King Christian IV of Denmark (1577-1648), Alison Dowling, horrid as his strident, sex-obsessed consort Kirsten, and Clare Wille as the gushingly romantic Francesca, Countess O'Fingal. Linking them all is the lute player Peter Claire (cue apt Naxos lute music by Dowling and Byrd) and his ill-fated affair with Emilia, Kirsten's companion. - Christina Hardyment, The Times English lutenist Peter Claire performs in the royal orchestra of King Christian IV's 17th-century Danish court, stirring the hearts of the principal women in this novel. Royal family dynamics are interwoven with love and lust as Claire catches the eye of the king and achieves a far-flung influence on a number of fronts - his political clout reaches from a widowed Irish countess of Spanish origins to the workers in the Scandinavian silver mines. Chapters are interspersed with delicate lute chords, and the alternating voices of the readers animate the narrative of each of the main characters. Feminine and breathy, Alison Dowling and Clare Wille give velvety, expressive voices to the female characters' tales. Michael Praed's strong, unaffected speech depicts the intensity and desperation of the characters he portrays. Mortal danger and the prospect of tragedy build as the narrators deliver their spirited array of voices. - A.W. A(c) AudioFile 2009, Portland, Maine [Published: SEPTEMBER 2009]

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