Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Prize Winning Fiction
Prize Winning Fiction

1999 Costa Winner

Music & Silence by Rose Tremain


Publisher: Sinclair Stevenson

Length: 464 pages

About: Danish King employs English lutenist

Style: 1st person from different people

Where: Denmark, England, Ireland

When: 1629-30



Publisher’s synopsis:

In 1629, a young English lutenist named Peter Claire arrives in Denmark to join King Christian IV's royal orchestra. The musicians have to perform in a freezing cellar underneath the royal apartments, and Claire soon understands that he's come to a place where the opposing states of good and evil are waging war to the death. He finds himself falling in love with the young woman who is the companion of the king's adulterous and estranged wife, Kirsten.





And so, one night, when he is alone with the King, playing his lute in the almost dark of the royal bedchamber, he begins to talk about paper manufacturer Francesco Ponti. "I cannot afford Italian paper," says the King. "Why, Sir? Because I have seen Signor Ponti's paper and I would say it is the finest in Europe". "I can afford nothing: no paper, no money for new mills. I can barely afford to entertain this Italian gentleman of yours to supper."






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.

Publishers Weekly 4th March 2000 for full review click here


Not so good 

Peter, a semi-angelic figure who should be a central character, is pallid and only partly realized; so is his love, Emilia, despite her own stormy family drama. The magic remains, however. MUSIC is vital, wise and, when it is not stumbling over its spells, spell-binding.

Richard Eder, New York Times, 24th April 2000


About the author

Rose Tremain was born Rosemary Jane Thomson on 2 August 1943 in London. She was educated at Francis Holland School, Crofton Grange School, the Sorbonne (1961-1962) and the University of East Anglia (BA, English Literature).She later went on to teach creative writing at the University of East Anglia from 1988 to 1995, and was appointed Chancellor in 2013.

She married Jon Tremain in 1971 and they had one daughter, Eleanor, born in 1972, who became an actress. The marriage lasted about five years. Her second marriage, to theatre director Jonathan Dudley, in 1982, lasted about nine years; and she has been with Richard Holmes since 1992. She lives in Norfolk.



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Age guide: 12






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A film adaptation is in the works for CMP Films/BBC Films, with Andrea Gibb on current script duties.



2016 Pulitzer Prize Winner

It's a massive day in arts and journalism because the 100th annual Pulitzer Prize winners were just announced, and there's a big surprise. 2015's best artistic and nonfiction writing across 21 categories were recognized during a ceremony Monday afternoon at Columbia University in New York City. The first Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Hebert Bayward Swope, a reporter for The New York World, in 1916. (And if you're as big a fan of Newsies as I am, that paper should ring a bell, but try to think of it more positively.)

The major prize for book nerds, the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction went to The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press), a legitimate surprise, if you've been paying attention to the book nerd and industry buzz. The feeling around the prize in the last few months would have you putting all your hard-earned cash down on A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara to take home the award, but that's why you should never gamble. Viet Thanh Nguyen is no less deserving, and moreover, it's his debut novel, which makes it such a wonderful win.

Extract from New York Times to view full article...

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