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Music and Silence, Rose TremainRose Tremain was born Rosemary Jane Thomson on 2 August 1943 in London Music and Silence is a novel written by the English author Rose Tremain It is set in and around the court of Christian IV of Denmark in the years 1629 and 1630 The main historical event depicted is the end of Christian s second marriage, to Kirsten Munk, and the start of his third, to Vibeke Kruse Vibeke Kruse died 1648 was the official mistress of King Christian IV of Denmark between 1629 and 1648 and the mother of one of his three acknowledged, illegitimate sons, Ulrik Christian Gyldenl ve She was described as influential There are also numerous sub plots and parallel stories, the main one being the love affair between two fictional characters, an English lutenist Peter Claire and Emilie Tilsen, a Danish servant of Kirsten s In addition there are several references to Danish history and flashbacks to Christian s childhood and subsequent development 2005 1382 581 9643511200 20 Set in 17th century Denmark at the court of Christian the 4th, this book reminds me of a fairy tale by Hans Andersen, for it is full of magic and wonder The writing is lovely, except for the sections in which certain characters revel in some rather sordid sexual antics The writing, though, fits the characters and events There are several witches, a king, the good girl, the hero even a boy who works wonders They are all larger than life another element that adds to the feeling of fairytale There are palaces and buried treasure This was a theme driven book rather than plot driven, with elements of light and dark, music and silence, fidelity and betrayal It s a book I would read again, just to savor it even than I did the first time. Due to my unreasonable irritability the author s reversal of the historical relationship between Christian IV and his mother over money and the bizarre invention of having the Danes ask the Russians for mining experts to help them develop silver mines in Norway but who are eaten by wolves on their way there, the Russians had no expertise in silver mining in the 17th century view spoiler and as is well known wolves only eat mining experts if they are also grandmothers hide spoiler I am a late convert to Rose Tremain s writing and what beautiful writing it is Having suffered through some appalling novels of late, it was wonderful to have this novel remind me that there are still some very talented authors out there It took me a little while to get used to the episodic nature of this novel pronounced than in Restoration but I found myself engaged by the characters and their stories even the appalling Kirsten and intrigued by the narrative At times the novel seemed to move a little slowly, but I simply reminded myself to be lulled along by the quiet beauty of Tremain s writing rather than expect a high action drama. ( Free Book ) ⚉ Music & Silence ♁ Set In Seventeenth Century Denmark, Rose Tremain S Dazzling, Prize Winning Tale Is A Pungently Atmospheric, Richly Provocative, And Masterfully Orchestrated Romance Of Point And Counterpoint Loyalty And Deceptiontenderness And Violencecommunity And Alienationpeace And Conflict Music Silence Peter Claire Is An English Lutenist Summoned To Denmark To Join King Christian IV S Royal Orchestra Designated The King S Angel Because Of The Purity Of His Physical Beauty, Peter Falls Helplessly In Love With The Lovely Companion Of Queen Kirsten, The King S Adulterous Wife The Young Musician Finds Himself Dangerously Torn Between Loyalties, Ensnared In The Deep Seated Unrest Of A Royal Court Where The Forces Of Good And Evil, Of Harmony And Dissonance, Are Ensconced In A Battle To The Death I read a review in this week s New Yorker on a new Tremaine book that praised her older work, so I went to the library and got Music Silence, which has a Whitbread Award It concerns a lute player and his misadventures in 17th C Denmark Sadly for me, it s written in that faux archaic style which some authors think emulates the time they are writing about, and I find it cloying How does she know people talked like that To add to my chagrin, the characters seem to be either saints or depraved evil people I m having trouble understanding the Whitbread for this book. Loved it..couldnt put it down I love the way its written from different perspectives and jumps back in time so you gradually learn about the characters backrounds and connections Im not a massive fan of alot of Historical fiction, preferring to read the real thing For example Alison Weirs or Antonia Frasers biographies of European Royals are as gripping as any fiction with plots counter plots intrigue and sumptous detail, why would you need a weak inaccurate story built around the same period Perhaps not knowing anything at all about the historical characters in Music and Silence helped me overcome this, I enjoyed knowing they were real, but i was able to enjoy it for beatifully written story telling. A difficult book to lose yourself in The skill of the author in creating exquisite prose is undeniable, but I have to confess to losing interest in the story on than a couple of occasions The switching back and forth between numerous points of view leaves one somewhat adrift and the story does tend to meander off the point quite regularly All in all, if you enjoy a literary work of considerable skill, you will enjoy the magic woven with words here However, I found the plot leaden and could not summon up much empathy for any of the characters For the poetry of the narrative I could give 5 stars, but for overall enjoyment, sadly only 3. Ambitious, engaging, flawedTremain synthesizes an array of narrators, points of view, writing styles, tenses in this historical novel which, mysteriously, contains little in the way of actual history.Let it be said at the outset that I have little experience of historical novels, so I m no judge of this as an example of the genre.The main arc follows an English lutenist, Peter Claire, as he travels to Denmark in 1629 to join King Christian IV s orchestra, and is the portrayal of a love story There is, in addition, the story of Christian and the ruling of his kingdom through a period of great hardship He is harangued by his second wife, Kirsten, a character of almost infinite selfishness and vindictiveness Christian himself garners sympathy, however, in his humanity, his vulnerability, and his suffering The supporting cast includes Christian s mother, Kirsten s mother, Emilia s family, including a sexually predatory wicked stepmother and a strange odd bod of a young brother who can hear nature speaking and has the ability to charm insects in one of the most bizarre scenes Among many others.So, the Peter and Emilia love story weaves though many other arcs in a highly episodic fashion Most chapters are very short, making for swift changes in point of view character narrator By page 50 the we ve had third person present tense following Peter arriving in Denmark Kirsten s very personal diary third person narrative following Queen Sophie, as she gives birth to Christian back to Peter an episode from Christian s childhood of Kirsten s ramblings Peter the first of several laments from the point of view of Peter s ex employer and lover in windswept Ireland, the Italian Countess O Fingal Emilia s background another of the Countess Laments a story from Christian s schooldays And the novel goes on for another 400 pages Not quite as long as this review Sorry In part, this is confusing, but the threads intertwine In part it is jarring, as the transitions are so swift The main problem is that not enough time is given to any of them to fully explore and develop the characters Having said this, it still does sort of work I still care about at least some of the characters, such as Peter, Christian, strange little Marcus, the homely servant Vibeke who undergoes something of a transformation of fortunes no spoilers here.The absence of history is a problem for me There is very little structure to hang the narratives on, so in many ways it may as well be set at any time A few historical events happen off stage , the main one coming towards the end of the novel where Christian climactically recounts a deeply traumatic event concerning a cherished childhood friend again, no spoilers The trouble is, with the narrative not in the habit of anchoring the actions of the characters in historical events, this story requires such a large dollop of historical information that the emotional impact is lost underneath it Which is a shame.The geographical locations are handled well, with effective scene setting, such as the huge forests and the many islands defined by the misty sea which surrounds them I would very much have liked maps Maps are always good I spent time googling them when it would have been far nicer to have had two or three printed in the book itself The locations play a significant part in the stories.Tremain s descriptive powers are considerable, with many of the scenes brought to life with an eye for detail One particular example of this is the description of the underground chamber that houses the musicians and the convoluted contraption whereby the music is syphoned, via tubes and a grille in the floor, to the King s Winter Room No one can see the musicians, but the music can be heard Almost Gormenghastian The writing styles vary with the changes in episodes, but it is very accomplished, although, with leanings towards the literary I would have preferred Tremain to cut out much of the over explaining that she gives I find it unnecessary and diluting For example, the otherwise very effective sentence, Queen Sophie holds her head in her hands, feeling the bones of her skull The keys to her treasure house are hard and cold against the puckered skin of her breasts , which should have ended there, goes on to add, as cold and hard as her unyielding purpose Just in case you missed it Such redundancies are common, and, to my mind, weaken otherwise very strong writing.The theme of music and silence plays out in many scenes and on many levels What these symbols may represent is open to interpretation There is something here that equates music with order, a Harmony of the Spheres sort of concept very much the psychology of Christian who is mentally assailed by things out of order, or unpleasing, or shoddy I also detect a correspondence between music and hope The scene where Peter s gathering deafness is addressed towards the end of the novel powerfully underscores this interpretation Interestingly, Kirsten cannot abide music.The very end of the novel leaves me dissatisfied I wish it had ended one episode earlier Instead, it gives the final words to the self centred Kirsten.All in all, a very enjoyable read One that would definitely warrant a repeat reading at some point. Music and Silence is the third of Rose Tremain s novels I ve read following on from The Way I found Her excellent and The Gustav Sonata masterpiece It most certainly won t be the last.The story is set in 1629 and 1630 in Denmark while the Thirty Years War rages in the background Moving from one location to another part of the novel is set in Ireland and part in England , this is essentially a complex love story and a tale of coming to terms with one s own weaknesses and willingness to make final amends.The characters are fascinating There are two women villains who make Melissa Leo seem kind The men are never quite sure which way to turn and often act indecisively causing distress to themselves and others The result is an absorbing novel, brilliantly researched,which builds to a thrilling, and in many ways, unexpected climax.David Lowther Author of The Blue Pencil, Liberating Belsen, Two Families at War and The Summer of 39, all published by Sacristy Press.