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Sex and Stravinsky Paperback – 3 May 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (3 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408805839
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408805831
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.6 x 23.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 443,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

`A dazzling achievement. It's beautifully-written, deftly-plotted and moves skillfully from domestic drama to global themes and back again' --Emma Lee-Potter, Daily Express

'This is a treasure of a novel from one of our best authors' --Zoe Strimpel, City A.M.

`Beautifully structured, with flashes of wonderful eccentricity' --Kevin Telfer, The Times

'a real treat... Sparkling and witty, it is sure to delight her establishing fans and win her many new ones'
--Sarah Clarke, The Bookseller

Book Description

An astounding new novel from the bestselling author of Frankie and Stankie and Brother of the More Famous Jack --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By emma who reads a lot TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 7 July 2010
Format: Paperback
I first read Barbara Trapido a long time ago, with the wonderfulBrother of the More Famous Jack. Her earlier novels have all now been repackaged, and I'm sure will tempt lots of readers. This new book, "Sex and Stravinsky", though, feels somewhat less obviously enjoyable than that first read. Josh is married to Caroline, he interested in ballet and mime, she more of an active, cake-baking, floor-sanding type. Their daughter Zoe finds her mother fairly unbearable, yet is nonetheless reluctant to go on her schedule French exchange. Josh is off to his former homeland, South Africa, for a conference, where he meets up with an old flame, Hattie. Hattie's daughter also finds her mother unbearable.

The way the story is constructed feels experimental, narrated in the present tense, and switching between all the main characters in turn. This means that you never quite get to settle with one main character in the way you would in a more conventional book. The book is a page-turner, and the reader definitely guns for the final page: Trapido ratchets up the drama by giving her first heroine an absolutely appalling mother, whose bad deeds are almost of Snow White stepmother proportions. You definitely wish for Caroline, the daughter, to have her revenge, and spend a lot of the book agonising over whether it will ever happen. There is also a lot of sadness, and many thoughtful observations of life in pre-Apartheid South Africa. Then it features two teenagers, both of whom detest their own mothers; mothers and children turn out to be the main theme of the book.

Yet despite all of this excellent raw material, I did come away feeling slightly flat.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Marjorie on 24 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback
Sex & Stravinsky is based on a complex plot, with interweaving storylines of six characters, and told in 1995 with numerous flashbacks. Sometimes the book seems slightly confusing with so many stories, perhaps in part because the novel also spans many countries (England, France, South Africa and other places in Africa). There are two mother-daughter pairs, one husband-father, and another figure whose identity can't be explained without giving away the denouement of the novel.

Ballet suffuses the novel, and the Stravinsky ballet Pulcinella seems to be the inspiration for the plot, in which a series of serendipitous meetings and mishaps are ultimately choreographed into a `dance of fate'.

The novel is written in the third person and present tense, with the writing being in places slightly detached, if not omniscient. The characters are treated with warmth and the kind of humour that is achievable when the telling is omniscient. The daughters' voices (Cat and Zoe) are captured particularly well. Overall, it is a lovely read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Puskas on 20 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
This wasn't Ms Trapido's best novel because a lot of the characters were caricatures, especially leggy perfect intellectual Caroline, mousy Hattie and Caroline's ghastly mother from hell. The Stravinsky theme was alluded to a fair bit, but not really developed, and there was no sex, only the vaguest inference thereof. Several of the characters were so unpalatable that I wanted to punch their fictional lights out. But it was an amusing romp with a few unexpected twists (although the final denouement was entirely predictable). I also found it inplausible that the head of a comprehensive school could just jack it in for love on the other side of the world, especially a meticulous planner like Caroline. I also couldn't understand the 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' analogies, despite being very familiar with the play and having seen an RSC production of it in the same week that I read the book. Odd.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gwen C on 30 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
I read this immediately after finishing a sad & difficult book (Marilynne Robinson!) & it quickly provided a tonic - although I was a little disappointed at first, wondering if it was going to be too insubstantial. The characters' voices are perhaps a bit too well drawn to take for page after page - in particular the two young girls, but overall it does work, & I was sad to reach the end.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By G. Gott on 14 Jun. 2010
Format: Hardcover
I have loved all Barabara Trapido's novels and this is no exception. The words flow beautifully so it is an effortless read but such a satisfying one! She manages to capture family life and all its vagaries perfectly, all the characters are real (did she know my mother?)and interesting. I couldn't put it down but did not want it to finish; when it was finished though I realised how much she had accomplished. It is more than a story of families, international themes are there, especially with the South African links, social comment is there but it is all intertwined with the magical words showing the pattern of life and lives. A tremendous read!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ali on 6 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback
Sex & Stravinsky is based on a complex plot, with interweaving storylines of six characters, and told largely in the mid-1990s with numerous flashbacks. Sometimes the book seems slightly confusing with so many stories, perhaps in part because the novel also spans many countries (England, France, South Africa and other places in Africa). There are two mother-daughter pairs, one husband-father, and another figure whose identity can't be explained without giving away the denouement of the novel. It is interesting that the writing is at its most vivid when the novel is set in South Africa, Trapido's birthplace.

Ballet suffuses the novel, and the Stravinsky ballet Pulcinella seems to be the inspiration for the plot, in which a series of serendipitous meetings and mishaps are ultimately choreographed into what one reviewer has termed a `dance of fate' - which perfectly captures the spirit of the novel.

The book is written in the third person and present tense, with the writing being in places slightly detached, if not omniscient. The characters are treated with warmth and the kind of humour that is achievable when the telling is omniscient.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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