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To A Strange Somewhere Fled Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
One instantly remarkable element of D.M. Denton’s fiction is her unique blending of history and fiction; such was the backdrop for her 2012 novel, A House Near Luccoli, which introduced a memorable fictional protagonist – Donatella – to one of Italy’s most enigmatic composers, the roguish Alessandro Stradella. This strength of Denton’s is played upon in Luccoli’s sequel novel, To a Strange Somewhere Fled, which finds a heartbroken Donatella amid a cast of decidedly English characters plucked with utmost authenticity from the resonance of history. After tragedy struck in Genoa, Donatella joins her family in her father’s native England, trading the majesty of the Mediterranean for the unruly weather and unusual society of Oxfordshire. Despondent and bereft, Donatella suffers renewed sadness as she comes to terms with her new life as a foreigner in a strange land, struggling to replace her native Italian with the confusing language of the English and ultimately learning to adapt to their ways.
Even as Donatella is haunted by the memory of Stradella – whose charming and often mischievous presence seems to have followed her, along with several never-performed copies of his compositions, to England – the determined heroine, expecting to resign herself once more to spinsterhood, finds unexpected emotions and, gradually, a new adventure awaiting her. From neighbors charming and catastrophic to an invasion of Italian musical greats, and even an appearance by the celebrated Henry Purcell, Donatella is soon buoyed between her own grief and the alluring, irrepressible pull of creativity. Almost all of the immediate characters in the story, with the exception of Donatella’s family and one or two others, are rooted in history, and the author shares her insights with the reader in a well-organized collection of historical notes at the back of the book. With this novel, Denton takes her fusion of history and fiction into an even deeper territory, depicting not only composers of British and Italian nationality, but also female singers and even men of law, such as the story’s male protagonist, biographer and lawyer Roger North. With sublime grace and devotion, Denton marries the two worlds together to form a setting for her novel that’s nothing short of enchanting.
Keeping true to A House Near Luccoli, much of the foundation of this novel relies heavily on music as expression. The cadences and temperaments of compositions are reflected in Denton’s pacing as well as her confidently executed freedom of narrative: some scenes that would traditionally be laid out in show-stopping dramatics may happen quietly, maybe even outside of the narrative completely; revelations are made, characters introduced, and emotions uncovered with unexpected swells and surges of expression. As a result, Denton’s writing is as beautiful and complex as the music she effectively seeks to honor. And while Donatella and her story, full as it is of such a legion of colorful characters, are vastly entertaining in their own right, often Denton’s descriptions of musical performances manage to swoop in and lift the reader up to even greater heights. Her passionate research and personal love of the art both shine through in the remarkable imagery her prose evokes, enrapturing her audience and taking them just a bit deeper into the intricacies of the 17th century setting. Irrevocable in its magic and intrepid in its storytelling, To a Strange Somewhere Fled is an fascinating and delectably original work that readers won’t soon forget.
(Review © Casee Marie, originally published on LiteraryInklings.com. A copy of the book was provided for the purpose of review.)
This plot is as much about music as Donatella's first story, which covered the time when she was a copyist for Stradella, but in this novel Donatella's role as a performer is emphasized, along with her relationship with Roger North, a neighbor and friend of her father's.
Denton writes with a lyrical style which swells, fades, and swells again, creating a perfect setting through its tone as much as its meticulous description. Her words pull her readers to 17th century England like music from that era. Here's a sample from a scene where Donatella explores her new home while walking with her parents:
Mama wanted to walk arm and arm with her daughter. The sun was gone from the village; the short cape Donatella wore, on loan from her mother, warm and disturbing with speckled fur around its neck and bottom edge. They had to go single file through the arched opening of the privet hedge that fronted the cottage Donatella had yet to call home. Their hurried movement upset thirsty midges, Papa swatting at them violently and Mama laughing as she meant to enjoy herself no matter what.
Donatella knew the pond was nearby ever since the Captain had told her why she heard ducks and frogs, the sound of children and splashing. As the evening silhouetted its lacy perimeter, it became the first thing she loved about the village.
“What is ... this ... scent, Papa?” Donatella slowly found the words to ask and recognized the cascading vine of flowering honeysuckle almost completely covering the stone wall that rose up behind the pond and hid their piece of the village.
“Most noticeable early morning and evening,” her father put a hand on her arm to show his pleasure with their conversation.
In North Carolina driving from Asheville to Boone presents a choice. A driver can stick to the interstates or opt to take the Blue Ridge Parkway. The latter decision takes an extra hour or so, but along the way there are opportunities to stop at overlooks and enjoy scenes that are among the most magnificent in America. DM Denton's writing presents a similar choice. It takes a little longer to read than most books of a similar page length, but along the way there are breathtaking moments which make the choice a wise one.
Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions
To open the pages of a historical novel written by D.M. Denton is to find that the past is no longer a foreign country. In this beautifully realised sequel to A House Near Luccoli, the author once again effortlessly blends the vividly imagined fictional character Donatella with real-life historical figures and settings to create a world that is as beguiling as it is believable.
We are invited to follow Donatella’s progress as she faces a very different future from the one she had begun to imagine for herself – without the quixotic musical genius, the 17th century Italian composer, Alessandro Stradella, who reawakened her passions and zest for life.
This is a subtle, understated exploration of love and lost possibility and there are no easy answers or conventional happy endings. As Albert Schweitzer wrote, ‘In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being’. There can be no better description of Donatella’s encounter with Stradella in A House Near Luccoli – but now living in England, and haunted by vivid memories of her time with him in Italy, what can life hold for her?
Donatella, her heart awoken and then broken, remains ‘another man’s secret’. She can perhaps reveal herself again, but surrender has many guises.
Scrupulously researched and historically accurate, the novel immerses the reader in its historical period. That we can meet Purcell within these pages and find him totally believable as a living, breathing human being is a mark of the author’s imaginative powers and literary skill. There are, appropriately enough, no false notes to be found.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The heroine, Donatella, an introverted, sensitive artist and poet, must...Read more