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Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer Paperback – February 1, 2011
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“A tremendously imaginative novel that's really several novels in one, for beneath its sparkling surface there are some very murky depths. A wonderfully disquieting read.” ―Sarah Waters, author of The Little Stranger
“This is one of the few novels I have read that is truly musical. Wesley Stace is a brilliant and intensely original writer and this is his most unusual book yet.” ―Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife
“A gripping narrative that twists and turns to the end...By far the most confident musical fiction I have read in years.” ―Norman Lebrecht, New Statesman (UK)
“Wesley Stace's tale of music and murder is a baroque intellectual thriller, wittily erudite and psychologically astute.” ―Alex Ross, author of The Rest Is Noise
“We might have predicted that Wesley Stace---a fine novelist and a fine musician---would one day write a novel about music, but could we have predicted that it would be so brilliant? The dialogue sparkles, the prose glimmers, and for once you leave a novel not just haunted by the characters and the story, but humming the tunes.” ―Jonathan Coe, author of The Rotters' Club
“[Stace's] twisty plot of jealousy and murder unfolds with Nabokovian precision during Britain's early twentieth-century folk and early music revival.” ―Ludovic Hunter-Tilney, Financial Times (UK)
“Recalls one of the greatest and saddest novels of the period, Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier and follows the tradition of great novels of imaginary music.” ―Roz Kaveney, The Times Literary Supplement (UK)
Top Customer Reviews
Wesley Stace is not a new author but he is new to me. This novel fills me with great admiration of his work. One must read this novel to be able to fully appreciate his gifts as an author. This definitely can only be defined as musical fiction. What a creation. This is a very intelligent piece of work that fully respects the reader. Be prepared to be taken to another place and time and be well taken care of by author Stace. This novel is a very welcome addition to historical fiction and I highly recommend it. Put it at the top of your to read list.
This task is left to Leslie Shepherd, a gentleman of independent means who writes musical criticism for a leading London paper. Meeting Jessold at a country-house weekend, he takes it upon himself to promote the young man and guide his early career. It is the period of the English folk-song revival, when composers such as Vaughan-Williams and Holst would go out into the countryside to transcribe ancient versions of the old ballads as sung by aged countrymen, in search of a home-grown nationalism to combat the dominance of German music.Read more ›
If the world of England's musical literati in the first half of the 20th century means nothing to you (if, for instance, you have no knowledge of or interest in composers like Vaughan Williams or Benjamin Britten), "Charles Jessold..." may seem a tad pretentious and refined in its sensibilities. But if the time and place, as well as the aforementioned authors, get you salivating, I think you'll devour this book with the same relish and pleasure as have I.
Beginning in 1910, the book, through the words of music critic Leslie Shepherd, tells of the rise and fall of composer Charles Gessold. Shepherd plays an integral part in both Gessold's professional and personal life. In turn, Gessold has a significant impact on Shepherd's professional as well as his personal life. As he narrates their story, Shepherd "considers" "Gessold as a murderer" - he examines whether Gessold is, indeed, a murderer. Society, however, "considers" "Gessold as a murderer" - they have deemed him to be one. These two differing views of Gessold comprise the balance of this unusual story.
Gessold's life, initially, is presented so that one may imagine it somewhat parallels that of Christ. Just as a Messiah was devoutly prayed for by the Hebrews - with respect to English opera - ..."an English opera by an English composer was ... devoutly wished for." Like Christ, Gessold is a young man from a small, rural town; at the age of thirty, he begins to gain recognition.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am an avid reader; however, I tend not to stray into the realm of historical fiction. Considering how compelling his last two novels were, I knew that I would be reading... Read morePublished on April 20, 2014 by Roy Opochinski
This is one of those "and now you know the rest of the story" stories, where the narrative is once given and then given again, to show us what we the readers weren't privy to the... Read morePublished on March 10, 2014 by ReasonableGoatPerson
I personally did not read this book,but heard wonderful things about it from several sources.I gave it as a gift and she found it a wonderful book,with a big surprise twist at the... Read morePublished on December 31, 2013 by ruth schreck
If you like classical music (especially opera), and if you enjoy witty Brits bantering and tossing epigrams around, you need to read this novel. Read morePublished on July 9, 2013 by adorian
I rarely stop reading a book halfway through, but when it hasn't moved a smidgen since the first page, I just can't take any more. Read morePublished on May 8, 2013 by close reader
Wesley Stace (aka John Wesley Harding) is one great story teller. And a great song writer. And a great singer. Read morePublished on February 15, 2013 by Maryka Biaggio
Where do I begin with such a unique novel?
Firstly, it does not suit everyone. It's long, incredibly detailed, intricate and not meant to be read in one sitting. Read more
I bought this on a whim while I was doing my Christmas shopping. I had never heard of the book or the author. After reading the first chapter I can't wait to finish. Read morePublished on December 23, 2012 by Alicia
Highly recommended but not for everyone. You will learn a great deal about the musical world (folk/classical/opera) in early-20th century England. Read morePublished on November 19, 2012 by M. Mastrogiacomo