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The Courage Consort

The Courage Consort [Kindle Edition]

Michel Faber
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Product Description


* Faber has a quirky imagination and a sharp eye, is clever but sympathetic to the reader, generous and sincere. The Independent * This is a beautifully distilled piece of work. Its brevity cannot disguise its depth, indeed it emphasises it... The story is told with a dry wit that should carry a warning for the reader not to strike a match anywhere in the book's vicinity. This is a beautifully-assured novella. -- Hugh Macdonald The Herald * Rites of passage don't come much subtler than this. Or, oddly, given the subject matter, much funnier. New Statesman * His prose veers sharply from a delectable descriptiveness to spikily comic insights. Cerebral and observant ... here is a talent in the ascendant. The Observer

Product Description

The Courage Consort, possibly the seventh best-known a cappella vocal ensemble in Britain, are given two weeks in a Belgian chateau to rehearse their latest commission, the monstrously complicated Partitum Mutante. But can the piece be performed? Does it matter that its composer is a maniac best known for attacking his wife with a stiletto shoe at the baggage reclaim of Milan airport? Can the five members of the Consort endure their own sexual tensions and wildly differing temperaments? And what is the inhuman voice that calls out to them from the woods at night? The esoteric world of avant-garde classical music is the unlikely setting for a story of rare power - perhaps the most moving Michel Faber has yet written.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 196 KB
  • Print Length: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; New Ed edition (1 Oct 2002)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #189,015 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fortissimo 16 Feb 2002
I read Michel Faber's latest, The Courage Consort, this morning after giving up on Peter Carey's workmanlike True History of the Kelly Gang. Yes, it's one of those books you can read at a sitting - or, as I was in bed, a lying. It's an ostensibly comic novella about a group of acapella singers - "possibly the seventh most renowned in the world" - called The Courage Consort. The action, such as it is, centres on their stay in a secluded European chateau to rehearse a larynx-bogglingly complex piece of modern choral music called Partitum Mutante. Cue lots of ker-razy Europeans to laugh at (presumably an in-joke as the Highlands-bound Faber is Dutch by birth).
However, as with Faber's last two books, Under the Skin and The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps, the central vein of the story is in the mind of an unhappy woman, this time Catherine Courage, the 47-year-old wife of the founder of the group. The first page finds herself contemplating suicide by jumping out of the window of their apartment, unsure whether four storeys would be enough to kill her. This gives us the fine closing line to the first paragraph: "If she could only drop from a height of a thousand storeys into soft, spongy ground, maybe her body would even bury itself on impact." There's enough like that to dispel any fear that Catherine might be a whingeing Plathette, and Faber manages to keep her sympathetic and likeable throughout.
If retreading the unhappy female territory means he will never suffer Martin Amis's accusations of misogyny, he would do well to his neglect of male characters.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Courage Consort 19 Sep 2005
By Stewart
Michel Faber's The Courage Consort is one of those books where you wish it were longer or part of a collection. A novella of 150 pages it follows the story of a group of singers sent to Belgium for two weeks in order to rehearse a new avant-garde piece for an upcoming event. As they spend more time in each other's company the group falls apart due to personality conflicts and personal problems.
Roger Courage is the founder of the singing group, named The Courage Consort, although the courage in their name comes from their willingness to tackle contemporary pieces in addition to the traditional standards. His wife, Catherine, is a manic depressive who, in preparation for the trip to Belgium, has forgotten her pills. Ben is an overweight bass singer who lives in his own personal world of silence. Julian is a seemingly bisexual vocalist with a love for Bohemian Rhapsody. And Dagmar, a young German, is the opposite of Catherine in her love for life; she has also, for the trip, brought along her newborn child, Axel.
The book begins with Catherine Courage sitting on the window ledge contemplating whether the four storey drop would be enough to kill her as her husband sit in the next room. As it continues the quintet spend the days practising Partitum Mutante, the avant-garde piece of Italian composer Pino Fugazzi, while the nights provide them with an over exposure to each other that leads to constant arguments about the direction the group should take. Their inability to work with each other leads to an incident that eventually breaks up the group, who are "possibly the seventh most renowned in the world", although there is some hope for the group as evidenced by the optimistic ending.
The prose is light, the vocabulary restrained, and the plot simple.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short, but the stuff of memorable reading 22 Jan 2003
By R. Fox
This book takes no time to read at all. At 120 pages, it's probably best if you read it for yourself, seeing as how there's such mixed reactions to it.
My personal view of this book is that it is rather good, actually. I found it compelling, interesting, very witty, and charming. I must admit that being a music fan but not being learned in the rules of music very much, I was expecting some of the terminology and descriptions to go over my head. The actual result is quite different, with not only the work involved in bringing it to life, but also the piece in question being conjoured up in the reader's mind very well indeed. If you have read Captain Corelli's Mandolin and found the description of the mandolin playing as wonderful as I did, then you will definitely like this.
The piece in question - Pino Fugazzi's Partitum Mutante - is a complex, dischordant, avant garde piece which the group of five singers must learn and perform within a fortnight. They are shipped off to a Belgian mansion, where the five of them spend the days singing and the nights dealing with whatever personal business they have to. Catherine and Roger Consort are husband and wife (he the founding memeber and all-round organiser, she depressive who's forgotten her pills), Julian (pretentious, highly sexed but gifted vocalist), Ben (quiet giant. Keeps himself to himself, and provides the calm end of the group), and Dagmar (young German lady, who brings with her a passion for the physical life, and her babay!). They've known and worked with each other for years, but only get together to perform the occasional piece. As highly acclaimed a quintet as they are, it just takes them being in a house together for one day to remind them why they aren't as functional as would be prefered.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting dynamics
I only wish this was a longer book - more a novella. But I enjoyed the way the relationships developed as the group were forced together and how the leading lady became mentally... Read more
Published 15 months ago by jackal
3.0 out of 5 stars A mildly satisfying endeavour
I read Under the Skin nearly 10 years ago and had kept Michel Faber in mind because I was impressed by that work. Read more
Published on 5 Mar 2012 by J. I. De Beresford
2.0 out of 5 stars Bum note
A group of five a cappella singers go to a large house in the Belgian countryside to rehearse a piece of avant garde music called partitum mutante. Read more
Published on 6 May 2010 by Sam Quixote
4.0 out of 5 stars Partitum Mutante
The Courage Consort are a group of four vocalists who are building a reputation for singing difficult new music by avant garde composers. Read more
Published on 11 Sep 2009 by Eileen Shaw
4.0 out of 5 stars Hollow Centre
I so wanted The Courage Consort to be excellent and in many respects it is, but there's a clumsiness about some of the writing that lets the story down. Read more
Published on 11 Aug 2002 by Zelda
2.0 out of 5 stars Thin, unconvincing, and not very funny
Faber's first novel 'Under the Skin' was a repellent but brilliant piece of work, and its imaginative vividness masked some of the holes in plotting and construction. Read more
Published on 3 Jun 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great book from this talented author
This book is a fantastic and funny read. A vocal consort group struggle with the latest "masterpiece" by Italian avantguard composer, Pino Fugazza. Read more
Published on 10 Feb 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly brilliant comic novel with unexpected depths
One of the finest comic novels I have ever had the pleasure to come across. Despite its brevity and lightness of tone it has a substance and a pathos that I found particularly... Read more
Published on 16 Jan 2002
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Catherine reflected that she almost always felt much younger than other people, unless they were clearly minors. This wasn’t vanity on her part; it was inferiority. Everyone had negotiated their passage into adulthood except her. She was still waiting to be called. &quote;
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