Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Night Music

New Year's greetings to our readers. Term starts on Monday next.

Meanwhile, a recommendation of Christopher Campbell-Howes's novel The Night Music (2006), which will shortly be available in our Library. The first section is set in an English prep school in 1954 and is narrated by Ben, a 13 year-old boy whose life will be turned upside down by the arrival of Claire, an 18 year-old filling in time as an assistant matron before heading off to music school.

Campbell-Howes's portrayal of prep (and boarding) school is pin-sharp, captures precisely the emotional intensity of the environment and is full of memorable characters and set-pieces, punctuated by Claire's letters to her sister Sophie. Bright humour slowly gives way to a darker tone, and this is deepened in the second half of the novel, which is set in southern France. This section ends in tragedy and shocking horror. Finally, the last twenty pages are set in rural Scotland fifty years later, and end with moving delicacy.

You're unlikely to find The Night Music in any bookshop, and there seem to have been very few reviews when it was published. There are some enthusiastic reader comments on Amazon, and the best bet for finding it is probably on Abebooks or the publisher Romarin's own website. It's strongly recommended, being beautifully written and constantly absorbing, and perhaps a mainstream publisher will pick it up before too long and give it the audience it deserves.


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