Publisher: Sinclair Stevenson
Length: 464 pages
About: Danish King employs English lutenist
Style: 1st person from different people
Where: Denmark, England, Ireland
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.