Literary Fiction (View all)
The time is 1995, but everybody is linked by their past. Brilliant Australian Caroline can command everyone except her own ghoulish mother, which means that things aren't easy for Josh and Zoe, her husband and twelve-year-old-daughter. Josh has bizarre origins in a South African mining town, but now teaches mime in Bristol. Zoe reads girls' ballet books and longs for ballet lessons; a thing denied to her until, on a school French exchange, she meets a runaway boy in a woodland hut. Meanwhile, on the east coast of Africa, Hattie Thomas, Josh's first love, has taken to writing girls' ballet books from the turret of her fabulous house - that's when she can carve out the space between the forceful presence of Herman and her crosspatch daughter Cat who, after some illicit snooping, is secretly planning a make-or-break essay on mask dancers in Mali. Hattie wakes from a dream of Stravinsky's Pulcinella and asks herself about the composer, 'Do his glasses look sexy?' His glasses are just like Josh's glasses from two decades earlier. From far and wide, they are all drawn together; drawn to Jack's place. Or is he Jacques? Or Giacomo? Beautiful, mysterious Jack, the one-time backyard ho
If you have not read this author you must do so at once, for she has become a great favourite of ours, and there is a great clamour among us for a turn at the reading copies when we receive them. This one is a beauty! It’s less complex than some of her others; a few later novels have been a little too overwhelmed by subtext (I really enjoyed Temples of Delight, though it was not everyone’s cup of tea), but this one romps and rollicks along in a most delectable manner, with those undertones of subtlety which stamp it as vintage Trapido. She is quite unique in that her niche is really tragicomedy; think the last act of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro for example, in which the characters, who are by this point mostly disguised in some way, are suddenly unmasked, and the whole of that topsy-turvy day (the opera’s sub-title) tumbles rapidly and bewitchingly from chaos to order. Once you understand her approach, you will appreciate the cleverness of the author’s oh-so-neat conclusion; her plots are dramatic but merry dances, in which, with a brilliant crescendo, all the elements come together in a bustling and irrepressible finale. Colleen has given you a brief overview of the plot in her review above, so there is no need for me to do so. Here is a truly enjoyable new novel from a fantastic author, with a cast of wonderful characters, written with oodles of wit, guile and vigour, from a lady whose every word just oozes style.
It’s always a cause for excitement when a new Barbara Trapido hits the shelves! I loved this latest one, with its African, Australian and European flavour, and the many references to theatre, ballet and opera, particularly Stravinsky’s Pulcinella. The main players are Josh, Caroline, Zoe, Hattie, Cat and Jack (with fabulous other smaller, but equally important ‘bit’ parts) … Trapido gives each character a wonderful and believable life of their own, and seamlessly draws them together towards the end of the book. If you loved Brother Of The More Famous Jack and The Travelling Hornplayer, then this is the one for you. For those of you who haven’t read any Trapido, this is a great one to start with.
Trapido never fails to deliver, and once again has woven her magic to produce a thoroughly delightful tale. This reads like a Shakespearian “Comedy of Errors” with a cast of characters entwined and connected via family, yet separated by distance and circumstance, all brought together in a symphonic ending that will have you screaming for an encore!!!