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The Courage Consort by Michel Faber
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The Courage Consort (original 2002; edition 2004)

by Michel Faber

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Member:TheCriticalTimes
Title:The Courage Consort
Authors:Michel Faber
Info:(2004), Hardcover
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Tags:Historical Fiction

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The Courage Consort by Michel Faber (2002)

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English (18)  Swedish (2)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  Italian (1)  All (23)
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Review: The Courage Consort by Michel Faber.

I think Michel Faber is a wonderful writer. Faber writes original plots that takes the reader to places and times of interest. However, The Courage Consort consisted of three novellas’ that did not reach his high standards that his novels do. Two out of the three of the stories were interesting enough to keep you reading but not with flare.

The first story is about a group of opera singers going to a mansion in the middle of the woods to practice their latest show with privacy. Even though the story offers touching moments, in the end, it ends up nowhere.

The second story is a mystery about an archeologist’s passion with an old document that has just been discovered. The archeologist is also working with a group in the ruins of a museum in some far off city. It was entertaining but somewhat repetitive.

The third story is worth the read. A little corny but understandable. It’s about a set of twin whose mother dies and their father sends them off to bury her in some far away place. That’s one way of getting rid of the kids……but surprise! They found their way back home.
( )
  Juan-banjo | May 31, 2016 |
The Courage Consort by Michel Faber - Very Good

Difficult to find what to say about this book. It is, of course, Michel Faber so therefore it is a beautifully written and interesting book but, unlike so much of his other work, nothing much happens.

The Courage Consort are an a cappella group heading off to a Belgian Chateau to rehearse a difficult new piece. Written in the voice of Catherine, a lot of the thread is about her problems and her personal growth. There are the interactions of and with the others in the group, but that's about it. A lot about personal discovery, but not a lot of 'story'.

Regardless, a lovely little book and a very quick read. Really glad I read it. ( )
  Cassandra2020 | Jan 24, 2016 |
I think of Jim Crace being an author producing vastly different books and now I realise that Michael Faber has a similarly vast range. You wouldn’t think it the same writer wrote ‘The Crimson Petal and the White’, ‘The Fahrenheit Twins’ and ‘Under the Skin’. This novella I found a little difficult to fathom despite the tale being fairly clear on the surface. A vocal ensemble spend a fortnight rehearsing a piece they don’t like in a Dutch cottage for a fortnight and gradually become more hostile to each other although they end up singing harmoniously in the end. I wasn’t sure what made the suicidal Catherine become a happier person and what she was thinking of when she thought she could destroy two marriages if she spoke. This follows a night walk of about six or seven hours into the forest where she thinks she has heard human cries, possibly a projection of her own anguish. It remained a mystery to me. I found the book held my attention but I never felt that drawn in nor that I understood what Faber wants the reader to take from it. ( )
  evening | Jun 30, 2014 |
This is a short, tight, novella, with nary a spare word used.

It is the story of a 5 piece acapella group, who have agreed to try out a new piece written by a very rich (and somewhat "otherworldy" mentally) German and get two weeks in a Belgian Château to practise. The novella starts with Catherine - married to the group's founder Roger Courage - coming out the other side of psychological problems, which include depression and a hinted-at suicide attempt the year before.

They meet up at the Château and there are soon tensions (both mental and sexual) underlying the daily practising. Dagmar - the other female in the group, who has brought her baby son Axel with her - loves biking and mountaineering, and soon begins an unlikely friendship with Catherine simply by going out biking daily and inviting Catherine to come with her. Daily exercise, with someone who doesnt seem to judge her or put her under pressure (plus no longer taking the anti depressants) goes much to changing Catherine during the book, to the point where casual acquaintances dont recognise her at first.

Catherine's insomnia makes her thing she hears human like cries in the woods at night Dagmar says she doesnt hear them. Catherine goes out walking one night, spending all night in the wood and comes back the following morning in a dream like state; what happened over night and whether the screams were real are never revealed, which some readers find frustrating, but if the novella is read as a traditional Gothic novel (The Mysteries of Udolpho, or Jane Austen's wind up of "Northanger Abbey") then these situations rarely are.

Catherine is the most rounded of the characters in the book, with the others being a bit one dimensional, but that is in part because Catherine has spent so long in her own world she hasnt been interested in anyone else, so only knows what she knows. She grows the most, since that at the beginning she doesnt even know what time of day it is, at the end she is making decisions for the group and is able to put her foot down to her husband

A question I ask when reading short stories and novellas: Could the story still stand if it was longer? This one I dont know, maybe adding in a little character development of the other 4 singers, expanding on the sexual tension outside of Roger and Catherine, but there is little more that I would add.
  nordie | May 4, 2014 |
What to say, what to say. The Courage Consort is a somewhat disfunctional choir group that retreats to a castle in Belgium to practice a complicated avant-garde musical piece. Focus is on the relationships between the characters, and Faber manages to present these in an adequately interesting way.

I do however feel that there are a lot of loose ends. Some interesting characteristics are brought forward, but are never really developed throughout the story. This leaves the reader with a novella that could have been so much more than just a novella. Which is a pity. ( )
  WorldInColour | Oct 12, 2013 |
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Epigraph
So word by word, and line by line, the dead man touch'd me from the past...

Tennyson, In Memoriam (The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps)
Dedication
To all those who sing lustily and with good courage, and to all who only wish they could. (The Courage Consort)
In memory of Panda (The Fahrenheit Twins)
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On the day the good news arrived, Catherine spent her first few waking hours toying with the idea of jumping out the window of her apartment.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Contains 3 novellas: "The Courage Consort," "The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps," and "The Fahreinheit Twins."
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0151010617, Hardcover)

Admirers of Belgian writer Michel Faber's magnificent breakthrough novel, The Crimson Petal and the White, may be surprised by how well his taut but unhurried prose translates to shorter fiction in the three novellas of The Courage Consort. It helps, of course, that the stories--minor marvels of suspenseful pacing and atmosphere--are unified by a large, old-fashioned theme: the loss of innocence (and, in one case, the struggle to preserve it). In the title story, an English vocal ensemble travels to Belgium for a two-week residency at a rural chateau, an opportunity to rehearse a notoriously difficult and possibly pointless new composition. Catherine, the soprano--and the dependent, emotionally fragile wife of the ensemble's director--hears plangent cries from the surrounding woods each night. Like Mrs. Dalloway, Catherine feels herself approaching middle age without having achieved adulthood. If she goes into the woods--facing the ghostly legend of a simple-minded mother and her baby, lost there near the end of World War II--will she find her grown-up self? The second novella, "The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps," traces a paper conservator's nightly unraveling of an 18th century oil merchant's tight-scrolled deathbed confession. And the third, "The Fahreinheit Twins," is one part Angela Carter, one part Jack London: a scary fairy tale translated to a glittering ice-bound wilderness.

Events that would be sensational in the hands of most writers--gruesome nightmares, hauntings, possible murders--are serenely dispatched by Faber, who has bigger emotional game in sight. And while every writer has characteristic tics and favorite phrases, the joy here is in observing Faber's growing mastery, and how few the limits on his talent. --Regina Marler

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:51 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"The Courage Consort" tells of an a capella vocal ensemble sequestered in a Belgian chateau to rehearse a monstrously complicated new piece. But competing artistic temperaments and sexual needs create as much discordance as the avant garde music. In "The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps," a lonely woman joins an archaeological dig at Whitby Abbey and unearths a mystery involving a long-hidden murder. In "The Fahrenheit Twins," strange children, identical in all but gender and left alone at the icy zenith of the world by their anthropologist parents, create their own ritual civilization.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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