HelenEdith's Blog

The minutiae of my life, plus website updates and book reviews

Archive for the ‘Musical theme’ Category

Books about music, or with music included in their plot

Book Review: Jane Yardley – Dancing with Dr Kildare

Posted by HelenEdith on June 13, 2009

This book came from the general fiction shelves in the library, and I found much of it to be rather pedestrian. It wasn’t that there was a lack of material: just that things happened rather slowly.

The plot of the book concerns Nina’s recently deceased father, who was a Finnish exile, and in whose locked desk Nina has found a score and parts of Sibelius’s Eighth Symphony, all in her father’s hand.

There are plenty of turns along the way – ballroom dancers and aficionados of the tango, plus Nina’s lifelong love of the actor Richard Chamberlain, particularly in his alter ego of Dr Kildare, which is where the title comes from.

We are drawn on a journey of discovery about the symphony. Initially, Nina wants to suppress it because she cannot see how it can reflect well on her father, which will in turn upset her mother; but then she starts to have doubts about its worth.

This was a well-researched book with a sizeable list of acknowledgements of sources at the end, and puts up a good if fictional case for why there never was an Eighth Symphony by Sibelius.

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Book Review: Susan Hepburn – Ghost of a Chance

Posted by HelenEdith on January 3, 2009

This book came from the “Crime” category in the library, and although it took about half the book before we had much in the way of obvious crime being committed, it was so entertainingly written that I have no complaints about that.

The main character in the book is Mike Brodie. Mike is actually a woman, Christened with the name Michal by parents who wanted a boy. Mike plays the saxophone. Well, actually, she plays the whole family of saxophones. She is in numerous bands and groups and has an agent called Paul Barnett who is always booking her up for slightly more than she really wants to do.

The book opens with Mike taking a short holiday visiting her friend Maggie at a minor stately home. She gets off to a bad start when the local re-enactment group think she’s an intruder and scare the life out of her. Then Paul shows up and talks her into stepping into a band making their television debut and in need of a sax player to replace their one, who has a broken arm. Paul “persuades” Mike despite the black eye she’s carrying from her run-in with the re-enactment group. Some holiday it’s turning into!

Mike has a ward Raffi, short for Raffaela. She’s a young adult and she pops up in the story quite a bit. In fact, she turns out to be quite important to the story. The owners of the minor stately home where Mike is staying are also important to the story, as is Jake, a powerful member of their staff. Some of the other staff are quite important to the story, too.

Thngs start unravelling when the elderly gentleman who has been writing a history of Berwick Grange and was on the trail of the priests’ holes within the building turns up dead in the village pond. It doesn’t seem immediately that this event is causing things to unravel, and Mike goes on about her life, and seems to be performing just about as often as if she weren’t on holiday. However, this does prove to be a turning point in the book, and things start getting really nasty.

A host of other characters are creeping around, including at least one who’s supposed to be dead but isn’t, and by the end of the book, we discover the significance of the priests’ holes and finally tie up all the loose ends.

The title of the book, by the way, is the name of a racehorse owned by the Grange’s owners. The racehorse plays quite a minor part in the story, but it’s a good title.

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Book Review: Tamara McKinley – Dreamscapes

Posted by HelenEdith on November 24, 2007

I’m not having much luck with the way the library categorises books at present. This one has ‘Cri’ on its spine, and yes, a crime is committed in the book (several in fact) but I wouldn’t describe this as crime fiction.

The story follows the life of Catriona Summers, who is born to travelling music hall performers and from those humble beginnings, rises to be an opera star. The inside of the book jacket summarises the book as being about how scandalous secrets associated with her early years are threatening to come out in later life, which is probably where the library got the idea that this is a crime novel.

The book spends a lot of time on Catriona’s early years, right up to and past the time when the crimes were committed, following Catriona’s progress from living in a travelling wagon in Outback Australia through to her studying in Sydney, and her marriage to her agent. After that, the book rather glosses over her performing career and picks up again when Catriona is nearing the end of her career as a singer, by which time she is making her home in Outback Australia.

The crimes do come to light towards the end of the novel, which completes a parallel thread in the book following three generations of policemen, and how the revelations are handled occupies the end of the novel, which has a surprisingly happy ending, considering some of the events which took place earlier in the book.

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