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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Beautifully detailed character development and intricate yet well resolved story.
Lusty, beautiful, adulterous young Kirsten, the King's consort who will never be queen, trapped by Christian's love for her, determines to drive him to indifference.
For each of these characters Rose Tremain has created a distinctive style and voice, each a pleasure to read.
Historic novels are my window to what were once, to me, dry facts gathered by the winners. This is a picture of Danish life I would normally have bypassed. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Jean Denton
This is my first by this author and I can't believe I waited this long to read one of her works. The depth with which she gives her characters make them three dimensional in a... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Caroline Lim
Brilliantly written and simply bursting with historic detail! This is simply a must read for Christmas, especially for the musically inclined!Published 10 months ago by R. Gilchrist
Music & Silence by Rose Tremain, Chatto and Windus, 1999, 462 ff
The story is that of the court of King Christian IV of Denmark in the 17th century. Read more
In its opening chapter, the young English luteinise Peter Claire arrives at the court of King Christian IV of Denmark. He is to join the royal orchestra. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Jean Seifert
enlightening book. All the females were flawed in some way, more so than the men. The ending was bit sugary
I really enjoyed the book, read all of it, no... Read more
An 'epic novel' in that the author leaps about from period to period, place to place, and family to family. Read morePublished 20 months ago by helen falla
A good friend recommended this book to me. I started reading and became totally absorbed. Beautifully detailed character development and intricate yet well resolved story. Read morePublished on August 14, 2012 by Nkosazana
I greatly enjoyed this much-admired historical novel by Rose Tremain, though not quite as much as THE COLOUR, her novel of the New Zealand gold rush that followed it, and not for... Read morePublished on January 27, 2012 by Roger Brunyate