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The Song Collector by Natasha Solomons

The Song Collector

by Natasha Solomons

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1107109,733 (3.95)2
  1. 00
    The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. K. Lee (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Parallel narratives tell a melancholy story of love and betrayal with ties to World War II in each of these novels. Although their well-described settings are different, both character-driven books contain a strong music theme and a deeply affecting emotional impact.… (more)

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Three brothers and their father return to the family estate in November 1946 following its requisition during the war. Hartgrove Hall is looking worse for wear and when the their father, the General, decides to demolish it, the brothers come up with a plan to work the land and save it themselves. Youngest brother Fox must give up his musical studies to help. When oldest brother and heir Jack brings famous wartime singer Edie Rose to stay, the brothers all fall in love with her, but most smitten is Fox. When Jack and Edie marry, Fox can't stand it and leaves brokenhearted. The book travels between the 1940s/1950s and 2000s. Fox is now elderly, he is a famous composer and song collector who is bereft at the loss of both his wife Edie, love of his life, and his inner music. But when he discovers that his 4-year-old grandson is a piano prodigy he starts to reconnect with his fellow musicians and find inspiration once more. It was really interesting to find out about song collecting, following the main character's obsession with discovering and recording old folk songs and learning more about the importance and history of this pursuit. A beautifully told story of passion, betrayal, love, loss, hope and forgiveness. Well researched and written. Really enjoyed. ( )
  DebbieMcCauley | Jul 1, 2017 |
Why do I keep reading these novels by Solomons? They are very entertaining but often make me feel like I ate a whole bag of potato chips at one sitting. I liked the big house/ song collecting elements but I was disappointed that Solomons didn't dig any deeper into the song collecting culture that existed. It's very - I don't know - skimmed - like the research was done and then thrown in to the novel. That sounds mean but the lack of depth kind of bugged me.

Still, if you are stuck in your house because of the snow, you could do worse. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
Sometimes, rarely these days, a book takes my breath away in its scope, depth and understanding of the human condition. 'The Song Collector' is one of these novels. There is nothing earth shattering in the plot, but the writer has a way with words and an understanding of the universal human emotions which never change and affect us all so profoundly. This novel deals with grief and love, jealousy and obsession, and does it brilliantly.

The novel starts at with grief, a death, and it is at the end of our MC's life. Then we jump back to the family returning to the family home after WWII has ended. The novel then jumps forwards and backwards to key moments in the characters' lives. There is a rhythm and pattern to this movement so it is not as disconcerting as I expected it to be.

Characters are vital in any novel. Here, because the plot is simple, the characters must attract the reader, and they do. Our song collector is the youngest son of the Fox-Talbot family, Harry, called Fox, brothers Jack and George have been through the war. Harry has been at school and then Cambridge. It's when Jack comes home with Edie Rose, the sweetheart of the soldiers and singer of those sentimental war songs that the brothers have problems. They all love Edie. Jack wins out and Harry heads for London and music. He has been collecting folk songs for years and now he finds ways to use the melodies in his compositions.

There are many lively characters, a lot of information about the world of music, and tangled emotions. I enjoyed Harry's thoughts as he tried to cope with grief and his daughters' earnest efforts to get him alive again. It takes discovering that his difficult grandson is musically gifted to get him to live.

It's a lovely book about human emotions and very human characters. They stayed with me long after I'd finished reading.

A book for readers who love depth, humanity, and music. A must read for most. ( )
  p.d.r.lindsay | Apr 7, 2016 |
This is a profoundly moving, beautifully written book that captured my heart immediately. I used to read a lot of books about old English mansions and the families living in them with all their secrets. I’ve gotten away from them as they seemed to become too predictable to me. This one was a pure delight and one day I’d like to read it again just so I can once again return to Hartgrove Hall.

This book soars with music throughout – the music of voices, the music of instruments, the music of bird song, the music of the trees and the very ground of Hartgrove Hill. The passion of the music in this book will take your breath away. The story is a simple one. Harry (Little Fox) desires to compose a symphony when he’s called upon by his two brothers, Jack and George, to stay at Hartgrove Hall and help them save the crumbling family property. He’s in love with Jack’s girl, Edie, which complicates matters. The book fluctuates between that period of time in their lives and fifty years later when Harry is grieving for his deceased wife. The only thing that helps him through this heartbreaking time is his grandson, Robin, a difficult child of 4 with a very special gift.

The author has crafted a literary work of art and music that will long stay a part of my heart. The characters, their humor and drama were all marvelous. Harry is a song collector and travels throughout the area trying to find old folk songs that he writes down in a book. I loved walking the hills of Dorset, England with him as he searches for songs. “The Song of Hartgrove Hall” is titled “The Song Collector” in England.

I’m trying to think if there is anything negative about the book but I can’t think of a thing. To me, it was perfection from the first page to the last. Highly recommended.

I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. ( )
  hubblegal | Jan 23, 2016 |
Are you a Downton Abbey fan? - Then you will thoroughly enjoy this book. Also a classical music fan? - Then you will devour it as the story resonates to your soul. The father "General", his three sons, (one with girl on arm), return to the neglected family estate after WWII. "She" (the house) is crumbling around their ears yet she still holds so many wonderful memories. Can she be saved? Who knows?

Meanwhile, the brothers and the gal are pals and revisit old favorite haunts of the estate. The eldest son has her yet the other two want her. The youngest son, like the mother who was gone before his 4th birthday, is a talented musician and has come home for the summer holiday from his studies at Cambridge. The girl on the arm of his eldest brother, is a singer and the darling of Britain after having recorded bolstering patriotic songs during the war. The two musicians are connected in ways that others cannot begin to fathom. Yet, she belongs to the eldest brother. The youngest brother is tormented and cannot endure it.

Author Natasha Solomon's writing style is painterly in this beautiful yet sometimes difficult story. One imagines being among the characters and sharing the struggles of their lives. The tension, grief, guilt and emotions are palpable. This is a story you won't want to put down and it will linger with you for quite some time.

I am grateful to author Natasha Solomons, publisher Penguin Random House LLC and Goodreads Giveaway program for having provided a free uncorrected proof copy of this book. Their generosity did not, however, influence this review - the words of which are mine alone.

Synopsis (from book's back cover):
It's a terrible thing to covet your brother’s girl

New Year’s Eve, 1946. Candles flicker, a gramophone scratches out a tune as guests dance and sip champagne— for one night Hartgrove Hall relives better days. Harry Fox-Talbot and his brothers have returned from the war determined to save their once grand home from ruin. But the arrival of beautiful wartime singer Edie Rose tangles the threads of love and duty, and leads to a devastating betrayal.

Fifty years later, now a celebrated composer, Fox reels from the death of his adored wife, Edie. Until his connection with his four-year old grandson - a piano prodigy – propels him back into life, and ultimately to confront his past. An enthralling novel about love and treachery, joy after grief, and a man forced to ask: is it ever too late to seek forgiveness? ( )
  KateBaxter | Jan 11, 2016 |
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