Katherine Grant. Henry Holt, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9992-8
The first novel for adults from British YA author Grant is a witty, dark, and sophisticated tale set in 1790s London. Four men, wealthy but not well-bred, meet in a coffeehouse to discuss finding upper-class husbands for their five daughters. A concert on the still-new pianoforte, they decide, will display the girls perfectly to London’s elite. Piano-maker Vittorio Cantabile soon delivers the expensive instrument, along with a French music teacher. The aptly named Monsieur Belladroit begins a program of instruction and seduction, but is surprised when one of his charges, Alathea Sawneyford, makes the first move. Alathea, whose sexual boldness has unhappy roots, finds an unexpectedly deep connection with Annie, Cantabile’s hare-lipped daughter, like her, already an accomplished musician. Music provides the story’s intrigues as well as its moments of joy, but even art’s power to transcend human limits can’t produce a happy ending. Grant eschews period clichés in favor of sharp, unsentimental storytelling that evokes the era with zest and authenticity. Her London, like her characters, is both flawed and fascinating. The novel’s epigrammatic voice—“London was never so lovely as when you were about to leave it”—is another of its delights, detached in tone but delivering what are often dark ironies with memorable brevity and cleverness. Agent: Georgina Capel, Capel & Land. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/06/2014
Release date: 04/01/2014
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Hardcover - 304 pages - 978-1-84408-985-7
Hardcover - 290 pages - 978-1-84408-984-0
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-8050-9993-5
Hardcover - 304 pages - 978-1-84408-986-4
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