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The Glass Harmonica by Dorothee Kocks
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The Glass Harmonica (edition 2011)

by Dorothee Kocks

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421,664,912 (4.25)2
Member:timjones
Title:The Glass Harmonica
Authors:Dorothee Kocks
Info:Rosa Mira Books (2011), Kindle Edition
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:fiction, novel, American fiction, ebook, Corsica, France, 19th century

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The Glass Harmonica by Dorothee Kocks

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Kocks subtitled her historical novel, set in the early 19th century, "A Sensualist's Tale." Chiara ("rhymes with tiara"), a young musically gifted Corsican woman, is sent by the village priest and her parents to Napoleon's Paris to become a servant to a wealthy, dying opium addict. One night she disguises herself as a young man and attends a masked ball open to the public. The aristocratic Marguerite takes a fancy to her and offers her patronage; Henry, a young American traveller/entrepreneur falls in love with her. She is introduced to the new instrument, the glass harmonica (invented by Benjamin Franklin), that has become a sensation and promptly learns to play it -- reverberating with its electric, sensual energy. -- It all sounds a bit preposterous, but Kocks makes it work, bringing the reader into the tantalizing Napoleonic era with its freewheeling experimentation, trade in exotic goods, and intellectual questioning.

When Chiara arrives with Henry back in Portsmouth, NH and his Puritanical family, there are bumps in the road -- both in their path to marriage and, to some degree, in the writing. The complexity of relationships is not Kocks' forte, but she's marvellous in her descriptions of early American life, the beginnings of riverboat travel and entertainment (including its bawdy contraband), and the clashes of ideas, classes, and social mores that colored the growth of American traditions.

I don't think this novel is great literature, but it's great fun, and I found it vastly entertaining. ( )
1 vote janeajones | Apr 16, 2013 |
This ebook novel of Revolution-era France, post-revolutionary America, and the invention of pornography as a commercial genre is beautifully written, though I felt that there were times when the narrative stalled. The central character, the Corsican glass harmonica player Chjara, is very well delineated, but I didn't always the actions of her American lover Henry so convincing.

But it's worth repeating that the novel is beautifully written, full of arresting descriptions and images. Although Dorothee Kocks' writing isn't as outré is Angela Carter's, it shares something of the same qualities. Overall, an intriguing novel that is well worth reading. ( )
  timjones | Feb 15, 2013 |
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