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Sedition

by Katharine Grant

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9316231,927 (3.14)9
"The setting: London, 1794. The problem: Four nouveau riche fathers with five marriageable daughters. The plan: The young women will learn to play the piano, give a concert for young Englishmen who have titles but no fortunes, and will marry very well indeed. The complications: The lascivious (and French) piano teacher; the piano maker's jealous (and musically gifted) daughter; the one of these marriageable daughters with a mating plan of her own. While it might be a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a title and no money must be in want of a fortune, what does a sexually awakened young woman want? In her wickedly alluring romp through the late-Georgian London, Italian piano making, and tightly-fitted Polonaise gowns, Katharine Grant has written a startling and provocative debut"--… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
3.5 strs really ( )
  stephaniedloves2read | Aug 8, 2021 |
In 1794 London, four merchant class fathers who have made their way and their fortune find themselves faced with the problem of marrying off their coming of age daughters. They of course want their daughters to marry up, so they devise a plan. Their daughters will learn to play the newly invented pianoforte and then give a concert, invitation only, to the single heirs who hold high English titles but lack the fortunes to go with them. Their brilliant plan is quickly compromised however when the piano maker is forced to part with his best instrument and vows revenge. He quickly devises a plan of his own to ruin the concert and the girls' marriage prospects by providing a French piano teacher that will seduce the girls and ruin their futures. The piano maker nevertheless underestimates the abilities and jealousies of his daughter who seeks a revenge of her own. The plot thickens and twists as we are pulled into the darker secrets of these well-to-do families and discover the full extent of their ambitions. Whose plan will succeed?

Bettina P. / Marathon County Public Library
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  mcpl.wausau | Sep 25, 2017 |
This novel reminded me of The Crimson Petal and the White with a touch of Michelle Lovric perhaps. The story moved rather swiftly and the characters were brilliantly drawn- from the crazed pianoforte maker, to the lusty music tutor, to the silly girls taking the lessons. A somehow light hearted read, despite dealing with some hard circumstances that the characters need to deal with.
( )
  eschaalman | Nov 30, 2016 |
My main reservation about a lot of historical novels is that the writers have often done so much research that the novel becomes so stuffed with period detail that the story gets swamped and I feel I'd be better off reading a non-fiction account. That's not the case with this novel. There's just enough background to give you a sense of London in 1794 -and, in particular, the effects of French Revolution hovering over everything. The beginnings of the industrial revolution and the shift of power from the old aristocratic class to the new money of the middle classes is also ever present without being hammered home in a novel which is about the newly wealthy middle class families trying to marry their daughters into the aristocracy.
However, the story is only loosely connected to a naturalistic picture of the period. By the end, it has become increasingly operatic and over-the-top sensational. If it was a film, it would have been directed by Ken Russell (it reminded me most of his 1970s movie The Devils in its build up of sexual frenzy). I found it very readable but I had to make a lot of effort at times to suspend disbelief and go with the excessive flow. As a very non-musical person, I also found the detailed descriptions of the musical practice and preparations tedious. ( )
  stephengoldenberg | Apr 6, 2016 |
Well, this is a ... weird... book.
I can't really think of anything else I've read that I would compare it to. It's internally consistent, but the tone is a strange mix of humor, tragedy, and prurience.

Five young women - all the daughters of social climbers. Their parents concoct a scheme to have the girls present a musical concert, playing the newfangled pianoforte, in order to lure titled husbands.

To this end, a piano is acquired and a music master hired. However, due to the piano-seller's offense at how the sale went down, he concocts a scheme to have the piano teacher seduce and deflower all five girls, and thus ruin the families' grand plans.

As it turns out, however, not all five of the girls actually need deflowering, and this scheme is not the only one that comes into play - the tables may be turned. And they may turn at unexpected angles.

This summary makes the story sound more lighthearted than it is, however. There's a lot of darkness here: rape, incest, abuse, violence, mutilation and more. Some of it is presented quite disturbingly. But then there's still that weird humor to it. And it's not quite pornographic - there's also an odd restraint to the book.

However, it is undeniably quite perverse...


Copy won through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway. Thanks to Goodreads!
( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Comparison is likely to be drawn between Grant and Sarah Waters, given their books’ settings, tone, and inclusion of lesbian relationships, but perhaps Grant lacks a little subtlety in her staging of events. By taking her novel at such a gallop, Sedition lacks the quieter, reflective moments often prized in Waters’ work.

Nonetheless, Sedition is an accomplished adult début, begging for translation to the screen, with plenty of dark humour, transgressive romance, and shocking developments to incite readers’ passions.
 
In its fairly irresistible combination of transgressive sex and a richly layered evocation of history, Sedition demands comparison with Sarah Waters' untouchably brilliant novels, and by and large it does not disappoint. Grant may not have Waters' extraordinary command of plot and pace (Sedition's climactic concert scene, for example, might feel too protracted to the unmusical reader), but she pursues her narrative with irresistible energy. Her imagination is marvellously gothic and the Georgian London she conjures up brims with invention and detail, from the brown furniture crowding Frogmorton's suffocating drawing room in Manchester Square to the cobwebbed hangings in Sawney Sawneyford's shrouded Soho townhouse, to the jostling ships Alathea sees in the Pool of London, bound for the New World.
 
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To William, for never doubting
and to Michael Schmidt for never saying
he was too busy, though he was.
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It was a month after her mother died that Alathea Sawneyford's father first took her to the coffeehouse.
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"The setting: London, 1794. The problem: Four nouveau riche fathers with five marriageable daughters. The plan: The young women will learn to play the piano, give a concert for young Englishmen who have titles but no fortunes, and will marry very well indeed. The complications: The lascivious (and French) piano teacher; the piano maker's jealous (and musically gifted) daughter; the one of these marriageable daughters with a mating plan of her own. While it might be a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a title and no money must be in want of a fortune, what does a sexually awakened young woman want? In her wickedly alluring romp through the late-Georgian London, Italian piano making, and tightly-fitted Polonaise gowns, Katharine Grant has written a startling and provocative debut"--

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