Synopses & Reviews
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?
Paperback edition of the 1999 Whitbread fiction category winner. "Music & Silence" tells the story of a young lutenist who joins the Danish Royal Orchestra. A bold novel that examines the juxtaposition of good and evil, light and dark.
It is 1629, and a young English lute-player arrives at the court of Danish King Christian IV to play in the Royal Orchestra. From the moment he learns that the musicians must perform in a freezing cellar, he understands that he's come to a place where Good and Evil are waging a war to the death.
About the Author
Music & Silence is Rose Tremain's eighth novel. She has completed a screenplay based on Anthony Trollope's The Eustace Diamonds and is adapting Sacred Country in three parts for television. She won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Prix Femina Etranger (Sacred Country), the Sunday Express Book of the Year and the Booker Prize Shortlist (Restoration), the Dylan Thomas Short Story Award (The Colonel's Daughter), a Giles Cooper Award (for the play Temporary Shelter) and the Angel Literary Award (twice).
Reading Group Guide
1. Discuss the way that Tremain sets up thematic contrasts in the novel - between music and silence, good and evil, duty and passion. Discuss also how the structure may be seen as a succession of 'arias' in different voices.
2. Tremain says she worked from portraits and other visual materials yet she sometimes alters history to suit her fiction. Does it matter to you how much of the novel is fiction and how much researched fact?
3. Consider the pleasures and pains that music brings and how music can be a way of imposing order on chaos. How does this compare to the 'music' that Marcus hears in the natural world? Think too about the way that Marcus uses silence as a weapon against Magdalena and how the gentle Emilia is a haven of calm in the noise of the court.
4. Many of the characters have experienced some trauma in their past. Consider how Christian is affected by the death of Bror; Peter by his love affair with Countess O'Fingal; and Queen Sofie by her hoard of gold.
5. Discuss the nature of life in the royal court and the tension between private and public, open and closed spaces - castle bedrooms, gardens, the silver mine, cellars.
6. Both Magdalena and Kirsten - who are libidinous and ruthless in love - suffer whilst Emilia's patient love is rewarded and plain Charlotte finds happiness. Is this one of the 'morals' of the story?