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 realizes 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 realize his hopes and save his soul?
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Rose Tremain deserves a hallelujah chorus dedicated to her alone. A decade after the appearance of Restoration, with its superb evocation of the British baroque, comes her glorious and enthralling Music and Silence. Like the earlier novel, this one is a treasure house of delights--as haunting as it is pleasurable and teeming with real and imagined characters, intrigues, searches, and betrayals. The vivid scenes loop in and out, back and forth, like overlapping and repeated chords in a single, delicious composition.
The year is 1629, and King Christian IV of Denmark is living in a limbo of fear for his life and rage over his country's ruin, not to mention his wife's not-so-secret adultery. He consoles himself with impossible dreams and with music, the latter performed by his royal orchestra in a freezing cellar while he listens in his cozy chamber directly above. Music, he hopes, will create the sublime order he craves. The queen, meanwhile, detests nothing more. The duty of assuaging the king's miseries falls to his absurdly handsome English lutenist, Peter Claire, who resigns himself to his (so to speak) underground success:
They begin. It seems to Peter Claire as if they are playing only for themselves, as if this is a rehearsal for some future performance in a grand, lighted room. He has to keep reminding himself that the music is being carried, as breath is carried through the body of a wind instrument, through the twisted pipes, and emerging clear and sharp in the Vinterstue, where King Christian is eating his breakfast.... He strives, as always, for perfection and, because he is playing and listening with such fierce concentration, doesn't notice the cold in the cellar as he thought he would, and his fingers feel nimble and supple.Other stories, each of them full of fabulous invention, intertwine with these musical machinations. There is the tale of the king's mother, who hoards her gold in secret; the tormenting memory of his boyhood friend, Bror; and the romance between Peter Claire and the queen's downtrodden maid, Emilia. And while the author paid meticulous mind to her period settings, her take on desire and longing has a very modern intensity to it, as if an ancient score were being performed on a contemporary (and surpassingly elegant) instrument. --Ruth Petrie From the Back Cover:
"The best historical novelist of her generation. She evokes the past--with sensuality, wit and superb sleights of hand." - A. N. Wilson
"Lyrical, voluptuous--splendid--A sumptuous drama lit by the glamorous torchlight of the courtly past." - Sunday Times
"Historical fiction so epic in scope and so moving and imaginative that the reader lives a second life." - Time Out
"Superb--a wonderful, joyously noisy book." - Guardian
"Tremain's achievement in Music & Silence is extraordinary--A narrative as funny as it is compelling." - Daily Telegraph
"Magnificent--shot through with Tremain's unique blend of psychological acuity and charm." - The Times
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