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Sunday, July 20, 2014

"Frog Music" by Emma Donoghue ~ Magical and Spirited!

SUMMARY :


From the author of the worldwide bestseller Room: "Her greatest achievement yet...Emma Donoghue shows more than range with FROG MUSIC—she shows genius." — Darin Strauss, author of Half a Life


Summer of 1876: San Francisco is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heat wave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman named Jenny Bonnet is shot dead.

The survivor, her friend Blanche Beunon, is a French burlesque dancer. Over the next three days, she will risk everything to bring Jenny's murderer to justice—if he doesn't track her down first. The story Blanche struggles to piece together is one of free-love bohemians, desperate paupers, and arrogant millionaires; of jealous men, icy women, and damaged children. It's the secret life of Jenny herself, a notorious character who breaks the law every morning by getting dressed: a charmer as slippery as the frogs she hunts.

In thrilling, cinematic style, FROG MUSIC digs up a long-forgotten, never-solved crime. Full of songs that migrated across the world, Emma Donoghue's lyrical tale of love and bloodshed among lowlifes captures the pulse of a boomtown like no other.


PARTICULARS OF THE BOOK :

Published by:  Little, Brown & Co.
Pages:  416
Genre:  Fiction/Historical Fiction
Author:  Emma Donoghue
Website:  http://www.emmadonoghue.com
Purchase this book:  Amazon   or  Barnes & Noble


ABOUT THE AUTHOR :


Born in Dublin, Ireland, in October 1969, I am the youngest of eight children of Frances and Denis Donoghue (the literary critic, Henry James Professor at New York University). I attended Catholic convent schools in Dublin, apart from one eye-opening year in New York at the age of ten. In 1990 I earned a first-class honours BA in English and French from University College Dublin (unfortunately, without learning to actually speak French). I moved to England, and in 1997 received my PhD (on the concept of friendship between men and women in eighteenth-century English fiction) from the University of Cambridge. From the age of 23, I have earned my living as a writer, and have been lucky enough to never have an ‘honest job’ since I was sacked after a single summer month as a chambermaid. After years of commuting between England, Ireland, and Canada, in 1998 I settled in London, Ontario, where I live with Chris Roulston and our son Finn (10) and daughter Una (6).

a bit more about Ms Donoghue:

Although I work in many genres, I am best known for my fiction, which has been translated into over forty languages.
My latest novel, Frog Music (2014), is a multi-faceted murder mystery set in San Francisco in 1876.
Room (2010) is narrated by a five-year-old called Jack, who lives in a single room with his Ma and has never been outside. An international bestseller, Room was shortlisted for the Man Booker and Orange Prize, and won the Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Commonwealth Prize (Canada & Carribbean Region), the Canadian Booksellers’ Association Libris Awards (Fiction Book and Author of the Year), the Forest of Reading Evergreen Award and the W.H. Smith Paperback of the Year Award.
I began by writing about contemporary Dublin before the Boom in a coming-of-age novel, Stir-fry (1994), and a tale of bereavement, Hood (1995, winner of the American Library Association’s Gay and Lesbian Book Award, and recently republished by HarperCollins in the US), and I returned to my transformed home city with a love story that contrasts it with smalltown Ontario in Landing (2007, winner of a Golden Crown Literary Award).
I have a great love for the short story form; my stories have been published in Granta, the New Statesman, One Story, the Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, The Lady, the Globe and Mail, as well as 30 other journals and anthologies.  They have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4, RTE and CBC. Touchy Subjects (2006) is a set of nineteen contemporary stories about social taboos that moves between Ireland, Britain, France, Italy, the US and Canada.
I became a YA author by accident. Kissing the Witch (1997), my sequence of re-imagined fairytales, was published for adults in the UK but bought by Joanna Cottler Books (HarperCollins) in the US; they managed to win me a whole new 12-and-up audience, and Kissing the Witch was shortlisted for the James L. Tiptree Award. 
Perhaps inevitably, given my scholarly background and bent, I moved into historical fiction with Slammerkin (2000), a whydunnit inspired by a 1763 murder.  Slammerkin was a Main Selection of the Book of the Month Club, won the 2002 Ferro-Grumley Award for Lesbian Fiction, and was a finalist in the 2001 Irish Times Irish Fiction Prize. 
I followed it with a sequence of short stories about real incidents from the fourteenth century to the nineteenth, The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits (2002), and then Life Mask (2004, a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley Award), which tells the startling true story of a love triangle in 1790s London. The Sealed Letter (US/Canada 2008, UK 2011) is a domestic thriller about an 1860s cause celebre (the Codrington Divorce), joint winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction and longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction.
Three and a Half Deaths, my first mini ebook (UK/Ireland only), brings together four stories of calamities ranging from 1840s Canada to 1920s France. And  Astray (2012, shortlisted for the Eason Irish Novel of the Year) is a sequence of fourteen fact-inspired stories about travels to, from and within North America; one of them, ‘The Hunt’, was a finalist in the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Prize, the world’s most valuable award for a single story.


THE BOOKISH DAME REVIEWS :

Naturally, I'm a huge fan of Ms Donoghue after having read "Slammerkin" and "Room," but even I was caught off guard by this strange sounding book with an odd plot...  I need not  have been.  "Frog Music" is just as engaging and challenging as her other books.  I absolutely loved it. 

There's a sort of "Deadwood" (if you remember the TV program from some years ago) quality about this book.  It's dark and it's filled with singular characters that lift off the pages like illuminated glyphs.  The characters are small miracles from the mind of Donoghue.  Exacting in detail, beautifully rendered, they speak with perfect pitch their roles in this vignette of the old west and settling of a still wild San Francisco in the 1800's. 

Blanche, the central figure, is a sympathetic, baudy-house lady with a pretty little Frenchman lover and his fellow who depend upon her, a sickly baby who wrenches her heart and a friendship with Jenny, a gal who wears pants and totes a gun in a time when it's against the law for women.  The mystery of who shot and killed Jenny carries the plot of the story, but it's the surrounding details that really make this book sing.

Emma Donoghue is a genius at making her stories come alive in the details.  We can sense the tension, feel the fear, joy and love of the characters, hear what they hear, and see what they see.   The songs of the era shared in the book are lilting and eerie, lending another element to support this petite, masquerade of characters.

This is a book that picks you up gently at the beginning and before you know it you're hooked.  It's the kind of book that's difficult to describe.  One where the writing tends to outshine the summary.  You know the type...

I highly recommend it.

5 stars                                   Deborah/TheBookishDame

1 comments:

bermudaonion

I've got this on audio and I'm really looking forward to it.

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