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In the year 1629, a young English lutenist named Peter Claire arrives at the Danish Court to join King Christian IV's Royal Orchestra. From the moment when he realises that the musicians perform in a freezing cellar underneath the royal apartments, Peter Claire understands that he's come to a place where the opposing states of light and dark, good and evil, are waging war to the death. Designated the King's 'Angel' because of his good looks, he finds himself falling in love with the young woman who is the companion of the King's adulterous and estranged wife, Kirsten. With his loyalties fatally divided between duty and passion, how can Peter Claire find the path that will realise his hopes and save his soul?

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099268550
ISBN-10: 0099268558
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 29mm)
Pages: 464
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 1-Mar-2000
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


UK Kirkus Review » Tremain's previous novel, The Way I Found Her, dealt powerfully with the present day. Now, as she did in her marvellous Restoration, she uses her gifts both for recreating the historical past and for summoning up the magic of story-telling to give us this fine book, set in Denmark in 1629-30 around the court of the troubled King Christian IV. Seeking in music an answer to his own problems, the king summons from Ireland to play in the royal orchestra a young lutenist, who becomes both observer and victim of a court filled with domestic intrigue and sexual resentment. Many voices sound here, and over the course of the book many strange tales are told, in a spirit of fairytale innocence appropriate to the era and the Nordic land of Hans Christian Andersen. This is the age of Tycho Brahe, whose prophecies and predictions play a part in the story, and whose changing cosmos lies behind it. The tale is splendidly researched; it is also a classic romance. Yet coming from a mature, serious and distinguished writer at the top of her powers, it is also a subtle meditation: on the struggles of existence; on human dreams, aspirations and intuitions; and on the ways these are so often centred around the notion of and the mysterious and cosmological power of music. Review by MALCOLM BRADBURY Editor's note: Malcolm Bradbury is the author of several novels, including Eating People is Wrong, and was also co-founder of the trailblazing creative writing course at East Anglia. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » Versatile British author Tremain's eighth novel (after The Way I Found Her, 1998) is the stuff of which fairy-tales are spun, though it also exhibits a compelling psychological and moral density. The tale begins in 1629 as Peter Claire, a young English ``lutenist' whos been summoned to the court of King Christian IV, arrives in Denmark to become the newest member of the royal orchestra. Then, in a skillfully presented array of increasingly interlocking narratives (each keyed to a different character's consciousness), Tremain explores a considerable range of human responses to, and involvements with, the overt expressiveness of ``music' and the ``silence' that pervades hearts and minds given to introversion and secrecy. The tale of Christian's embattled boyhood and sudden ascension to the thronea sort of Hans Christian Andersen fable of a mind eagerly expanding, then possessively contracting brilliantly dramatizes a hungry spirit's resolute perfectionism. The ``confessions' of Christian's adulterous consort Kirsten (petulantly recorded in her ``private papers') vividly portrays an antic superego that thrives on self-indulgence and subterfuge. And the parallel tale of the love between Peter Claire and Kirsten's favorite handmaiden, Emilia, whos also been traumatized by a complex legacy of intrigue and lustironically echoes the royal drama to which it is gradually, ingeniously linked. Not all the connections here work quite so effectively (the story of Danish-born Countess O'Fingal, for example, whose Irish husband is destroyed by his obsession with a heavenly melody heard only in his dreams feels redundant and contrived). But Tremain's deepening characterization of King Christianboth as an incarnation of acquisitiveness who believes in his own divine right, and a sensitive seeker of higher thingsis masterly and, ultimately, very moving. Tremain studied with the late Angus Wilson, and the influence of his fertile imagination has clearly helped shape, and energize, her own. Music & Silence may be her best yet. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Rose Tremain

Rose Tremain lives in North London and Norwich, with the biographer Richard Holmes. Her books have won many prizes including the Whitbread Novel of the Year, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Prix Femina Etranger, the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Angel Literary Award and the Sunday Express Book of the Year. Restoration was shortlisted for the Booker and made into a film; The Colour was shortlisted for the Orange and selected by the Daily Mail Reading Club. Her most recent collection, The Darkness of Wallis Simpson, was shortlisted for both the First National Short story Award and the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. Two of her books (The Colour and The Way I Found Her) are in development as films, and she is currently working on a TV screenplay to star Sir Ian McKellen.

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