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The Devil's Music [Kindle Edition]

Jane Rusbridge
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)

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Book Description

It is 1958 and the Sputnik satellite has taken a dog up into space; back on earth, five-year-old Andy has a new sister, Elaine - a baby who, his father insists, is ‘not quite all there'. While his parents argue over whether or not to send Elaine away, Andy sleeps beside her cot each night, keeping guard and watching as his mother - once an ambitious, energetic nurse - twists away into her private, suffocating sadness.

Knots keep treasures safe, Andy's rope-maker grandfather tells him, and, as he listens to stories of the great Harry Houdini, Andy learns the Carrick Bend, the Midshipman's Hitch and the Monkey's Fist. Then a young painter, hired to decorate the family's house, seems to call Andy's mother back from the grief in which she is lost. But one day, at The Siding - the old railway carriage that serves as the family's seaside retreat - Andy is left in charge of his baby sister on a wind-chopped beach, where he discovers that not all treasures can be kept safe for ever.

Three decades later Andrew returns from self-imposed exile to The Siding, the place where his life first unravelled. Looking back on the broken strands of his childhood, he tries, at last, to weave them together, aided by his grandfather's copy of The Ashley Book of Knots and the arrival of a wild-haired, tango-dancing sculptor - a woman with her own ideas about making peace with the past.

Product Description


'This intricately structured, brilliantly observed modern take on a family saga is both passionate and moving and the prose snaps, crackles and pops with gorgeous detail' Lesley Glaister 'Vividly and intensely written' Jane Rogers, author of Mr Wroe's Virgins 'Jane Rusbridge has a gift for evoking both characters and place - The Devil's Music was pure pleasure to read. Sensuously written and beautifully woven together, the various strands of the story converge in a heartrending - and heartwarming - climax' Kathy Page, author of The Story of My Face 'The Devil's Music is that rare thing, a novel that is as bold as it is subtle. It's a powerful and deeply affecting story of the bond between a mother and her children. It's also a sharp expose of the devastating effects of the taboos that govern motherhood Jane Rusbridge is a brilliant new voice. She evokes hearth-and-home in 1950s Britain with terrific delicacy. This story is fresh, vivid - and startlingly contemporary' Alison MacLeod, author of The Changeling

About the Author

Jane Rusbridge lives on the coast in West Sussex with her husband, a farmer, and three of their five children. She taught at primary and preschool levels before returning to education herself as a mature student to study English at Chichester University, where she went on to gain an MA in Creative Writing. For the past ten years she has worked at Chichester University as an Associate Lecturer in English.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1317 KB
  • Print Length: 324 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1408801019
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; 1 edition (6 July 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074759869X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747598695
  • ASIN: B002VQ7QB2
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #98,066 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

ROOK 'conveys an emotional impact that resonates long after the closing pages' Times Literary Supplement

'the Anglo-Saxon material is genuinely fascinating and the writing itself is really fine - often lush and ambitiously poetic, but always controlled' Daily Mail

'intense, atmospheric and beautifully written' Joanna Briscoe

'The Devil's Music a sharp exposé of the devastating effects of the taboos that govern motherhood. Jane Rusbridge is a brilliant new voice. She evokes hearth-and-home in 1950s Britain with terrific delicacy.' Alison Macleod

'Vividly and intensely written' Jane Rogers

Nominated for the International IMPAC Literary Award 2011

Jane Rusbridge lives near the coast in West Sussex with her husband, a farmer. They have five children in their twenties. Jane is a graduate of the Creative Writing MA at the University of Chichester where she has been Associate Lecturer in English since 1999. Jane is also the recipient of the university's Lord Wolfendon Prize, the Philip Lebrun Prize for Creative Writing, a Bridport Prize and a FIsh Prize. Her novels are published by Bloomsbury and Bloomsbury Circus.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and thought provoking first novel. 14 July 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This first novel by author Jane Rusbridge caught my eye because it starts with a Glossary of Knots! I put it on the To Read pile. Then I picked it up and read the first chapter; a bad habit. Then I had to read it.

The book is stylishly written with an attention to detail which put me right back in the late 50s/early 60s of my childhood. The construction of the novel is cleverly designed to draw you in; well, it drew me in.

The opening chapter details a moment of everyday ordinariness which turns, in a split second, into a moment of nightmarish, life-changing horror. That tiny fraction of time when a life changes for ever.

The book is composed in five parts. In the first part, apparently unconnected stories of different people in differing times and places are laid down. The second and third parts find these stories touching, crossing, connecting and becoming clearer. In the fourth part of the book, the beauty of the pattern of this story has emerged and in the final part all strands are joined in a satisfying and interesting way. Rather like the tying of a complex knot I guess.

I particularly enjoyed the chapters written from the perspective of a nine year old boy, reminding me of Dirk Bogardes wonderful 'Great Meadow'. How might you feel when faced with a plate of Spam, lumpy mashed potato and beetroot? Yuk!

Very British, pleasingly understated and written in an entertaining style, the book touches on issues of interpersonal relationships, obsession, social taboos even the borderline-autism of the male mind.

I was left with a slight regret when I finished the book and feel a little jealous of those who haven't yet read it. That's how I usually feel when I finish a great book.

Thus, five stars.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
A beautifully written story that will take you back to the 50s; you'll be captured by lino, candlewick bedspreads and apple snow as much as the memories of days on the beach!

With vivid portrayal of relationships and a brilliant ability to bring to painful life the contrasting realities of their experience; this writer still leaves you with a sense of hope.

This is an amazing first novel and one that is hard to put down. It's depth is enthralling - don't miss it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Story in knots 4 Jun. 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A family in 1950's Britain who have a daughter, Elaine, who is classed as mentally deficient. Andy the elder brother remembers a tragic accident on a seaside holiday and soon afterwards his mother disappears. The book is narrated by Andy as a child in the first person and also by himself 30 years later as an adult the mother's voice is narrated in the second person. Although I can see the reason why Jane Rusbridge chose this medium to tell her story I found it difficult to truly engage with her emotionally despite the tale she was telling being a tragic one.

I really enjoyed Andy's childhood narration, his fascination with knots and his deep relationship with his `Grampy' were both authentic and touching and his childhood fears were understandable given his father's irascibility. I also loved the front pages with illustrations of the knots that Andy learnt to tie at his grandfather's knee which went hand in hand with his childhood obsession with Houdini.

I didn't like Andy's adult voice though; he has become a wanderer leaving his younger sister to shoulder the burden of his father's death without his support. For me he became an unsympathetic character.

The author raised the stakes with her ending which I thought extremely fitting that certain conclusions are left to the reader to imagine.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Devil's Music. 5 Oct. 2009
From the opening tragedy and the melancholy of an English seaside in winter, this story draws the reader in. The strands of the tale are told from two alternating viewpoints - which are subtly drawn together and then spliced with finely wrought detail. The two principal characters, a mother and her son, are portrayed when he is a nine year old in the late 1950s; and again, thirty years later. Tension is built up almost imperceptibly throughout the story until events unfold into final gnosis and then catharsis.

This a beautifully put together novel which revels in almost photographic detail in its human interactions. The story is both powerful and gloriously sensual and leaves the reader unable to put it down until it is finished. We hope for more from Jane Rusbridge.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars loved this book! 22 Dec. 2012
By selliot
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found The Devil's Music by Jane Rusbridge immediately engaging for three main reasons: the subject matter (I'm a sucker for a tragedy that blows a family apart) the coastal setting, which is strikingly evoked in all its weather-beaten savagery, and the language, which is consistently assured and precise.

Andy's story is narrated in the first person, both as a child and as an adult, and his mother's story is told in the less common second person. I've only come across straight second person narration a few times before, and it hasn't always worked, but here the mother's second person voice is haunting and incredibly affecting. I remember once hearing a woman being interviewed about her experience of domestic abuse. I was struck by the fact that she referred to herself constantly in the second person, and I wondered if it was because she couldn't bear to inhabit the 'self' that had experienced such trauma; I wondered the same about this character, who has also had her share of trauma. Whether it was the author's intention to suggest this distancing from the traumatised self, I don't know, but it worked for me!

The story centres around Andy, who, following his father's death, returns to the family's seaside holiday home to prepare it for sale. Andy has been living in Crete, working in a taverna and trying to erase the sad life he left behind in England. When he returns to the very beach where, as a young child, he'd been left in charge of his baby sister Elaine, he is forced to face the memories that he's been trying to escape: memories of Elaine, labelled 'Mentally Deficient' soon after her birth, of his abusive father, Michael, and of his depressed and grief-stricken mother who abandoned him and his other sister Susie when they were children.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good read
Published 2 months ago by Miss Camelia A Chowdhury
2.0 out of 5 stars To me the storyline was so boring, the characters completely...
If hard pushed, the only description I could possibly give of this book is of a disfunctional family from beginning to end. Read more
Published 3 months ago by gillyflower
3.0 out of 5 stars book club book
It was ok liked the beach but bit depressing in places family bit dis functional but most are now a days
Published 4 months ago by PENNY HOLMES
3.0 out of 5 stars Knot drama
Based around a guy who has had a disoriented upbringing and is into different types of knots. An interesting tale on his upbringing and why he likes knots and Houdini. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Kevin
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting
interesting book
Published 7 months ago by dot
5.0 out of 5 stars interesting layering
I enjoyed this book a great deal and enjoyed the way it was written with each character recalling the events from the past.
Published 11 months ago by Keggas
4.0 out of 5 stars Great story
Great story, but a limitless difficult at the start of each chapter to tell who's narrating. Would defo recommend it
Published 11 months ago by Helen Roberts
3.0 out of 5 stars Ghosts of the past.
Andy facesup to his past when his sister summons him home. The narrative that alternates in flashback between his mother and his ten year old self shows how perspective is so... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Poignant, tender and sad ...
Beautifully written book, with well crafted characters and a heart rending story line, showing how one moment in time can change the destiny of all those involved - but is that... Read more
Published 13 months ago by SunnyB
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed this book.
if your drawn to books about looking back as well as onwards, the way childhood effects life and relationships, you will enjoy this book.
Published 13 months ago by BLOORBABE
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