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The Music Of The Spheres

The Music Of The Spheres [Kindle Edition]

Elizabeth Redfern
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Product Description


'An engrossing read and a rich, pungent evocation of the period’ -- Observer

‘I found this novel unputdownable. The complex narrative is brilliantly handled to keep the reader guessing right to the end… fascinating…’ -- Charles Palliser

‘Striking and original period thriller…excellent…a star is born’ -- Literary Review

‘Unputdownable…a glittering tale’ -- Guardian

Product Description

London, the summer of 1795: a season of revolutionary fervour, scientific discovery and vicious murders. The British government is in disarray, unable to stem the flood of secrets to Paris; betrayals that doom her war efforts to failure. In rural Kensington a group of French emigr-s are pursuing a scientific dream, the discovery of a planet they call Selene. The group has fallen under the spell of a beautiful and amoral woman - Auguste de Montpellier who is at once their muse and dark angel. Meanwhile a killer lurks in the back streets of the capital: the victims are all prostitutes and have been paid in French Louis d'Or, the currency of France's spies. Jonathan Absey is a Home Office clerk whose official task is to smash the French spy ring. Privately however, he has become obsessed with the murders. These interests intersect when he finds himself drawn into the Montpellier circle, yet his pursuit for truth remains obscured through coded letters, opium and conspiracy. Absey must uncover the mystery before the summer dies; an invasion fleet is being prepared to set sail across the channel and the lives of those on board now rest on his discoveries.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 677 KB
  • Print Length: 442 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0399147632
  • Publisher: Cornerstone Digital; New edition edition (30 Jun 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #446,797 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rattling good read! 11 Sep 2001
I picked this up in the airport and spent my holiday engrossed in the political intrigues and revolutionary fervour of London in 1795. An Astronomy spy thriller littered with prostitutes and murders - what more could you ask for? I recommend this book as a thoroughly absorbing and intelligent read.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic - well researched & stunning plot 6 Dec 2002
Hitorical fiction is a genre with a few gems and a lot of dross. What characterises the bad books is bad research and, often, gross historical inaccuracy. What characterises the good books is historic fidelity. Of course, the great books have a cracking story too. This, in my view, is a great book. The plot twists and turns - with the themes of treachery, spying, murder and astronomy set against the backdrop of England in the aftermath of the French Revolution. The characterisations are exceptionally strong and it is easy to develop a strong identity with each of the main players - albeit that they range from the mad to the bad to the sad.
This is a tale of people following their consciences or personal quests who are manipulated by cynical puppetmasters. If there is one criticism, albeit a moderate one, it is the dialogue. It is very 20th/21st Century - and it leads one to look at the situations in the book from a relatively modern perspective. This does not spoil the read as an experience (maybe it knocks one of the points off the 5 star rating). What is clear is that the author has put a phenomenal amount of effort into getting this book just right and she has succeeded in doing so with distinction. I can't wait to see what comes from her pen next.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heavens above, hell below 4 July 2007
I am professionally trained in astrophysics, and my current research area is the history of astronomy in the twentieth century. The astronomy cannot be faulted in this rich narrative. The search for the "lost planet" is real enough. After Herschel discovered Uranus on 13 March 1781, observational astronomers launched the quest to find a new planet between Mars and Jupiter. These "Celestial Police" as they styled themselves started a twenty year quest that ended on the very first night of the nineteenth century when the first asteroid was discovered.

The author succeeds admirably in re-creating the life and times of London in 1795. The detail is impressively researched (for example, the precise way in which London-based savants could use the postal service at the Royal Society to communicate with their counter parts in enemy France).

It is true that too much is revealed too early for this to be a true "murder mystery". For example, it was too obvious that one of the telescopes was stuffed with gold. Some chance encounters (the finding of the lost telescope) are too contrived -- or not contrived enough! -- for my taste. But none of that distracts from a delightful historical novel in which the scientific material is handled faultlessly. No Full Moons rise at midnight (as they do in so many novels) in this gem.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spies, lies and star-gazers 2 Dec 2002
For England, 1795 was something of an annus horribilis. With defeat in the Low Countries, sedition in the naval yards and republican sympathisers thickening the mix, Redfern sets this tale of murder, betrayal and obsession against a dark screen of national fear, uncertainty and introspection.
The protagonists journey through a maze of bluff and counter measure to get to a single, concluding centre, propelled (some towards disaster) by their respective obsessions: Jonathon Absey subordinates the search for a killer on London's streets to his quest to find the killer of his own daughter; Guy de Montpellier erodes mentally and physically, scouring the night sky for a lost planet he believes he once saw; Pierre Raultier jeopardises his own life for the unrelenting pull of a hopeless love. It is obsession, and loss through obsession, that brings these people together, full tilt into the boiling pot of war, politics and espionage that polarised republican France and royalist England.
The author renders a London of mud, blood and danger, a depiction that supports the hardship, tragedy and hopelessness that marks the lives of everyone in it. The superbly detailed - and diverting - astronomical references offer some light to those observers keen to forget more 'grounded' troubles (most of Redfern's characters have at least a cursory knowledge of the stars).
Though the narrative muddies a little at times and the denouement is rather abrupt, "The Music of the Spheres" is a must-buy for anyone keen to add to their existing stock of historical fiction.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intricate plotting with a real feel for history 11 Oct 2002
By A Customer
Although I admired the author's intricate plotting of the political background to this story, I was disappointed with the murder mystery aspect of it as I had more or less unravelled who the murderer was three or four chapters in, the author just gave away too many clues. For this reason, I would disagree with reviewers who say it "keeps you guessing until the end". Both the historical setting and details on astronomy are quite fascinating, you really get a tangible feel for what it was like for ordinary people living in London in 1795, the sheer bleakness, filth and smell of the place. I like books in which you can learn about lesser well known points in history and this is defintely one of those. If you are looking for an interesting read which doesn't romanticize the past, this is the one for you.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Do not buy as a gift!
I am surprised the other reviewers are so positive. I agree it is suspenseful. And I am sure the historical details are convincing as they say. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Nuge
4.0 out of 5 stars A dark tale of astronomy, spies and murder
One of this book's primary strengths is the meticulous historical research on London life and eighteenth-century astronomy, all of which is skilfully woven into the plot. Read more
Published on 26 May 2010 by LadyLibrary
2.0 out of 5 stars Good story, badly executed
A good original story about astronomy, the French revolution and spying but was let down by a banal sub plot. Read more
Published on 10 April 2009 by Mr. R. Thornton
4.0 out of 5 stars superior historical thriller
Set at the end of the C18th, this is a superior historical thriller set around a group of astronomers searching passionately for a 'lost' planet. Read more
Published on 18 Aug 2007 by Roman Clodia
1.0 out of 5 stars tiresome and too long
The glowing praise on the backcover convinced me to buy this book, and I duly started it as soon as possible... Read more
Published on 5 Mar 2006 by Didier
3.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable - unpickupable more like!
'Unputdownable' said The Guardian. Why is Charles Palliser attaching his name to this book. Did they read it all! Read more
Published on 21 July 2004 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Death, music and the stars...
For England, 1795 was something of an annus horribilis. With defeat in the Low Countries, sedition in the naval yards and republican sympathisers thickening the mix, Redfern sets... Read more
Published on 20 Nov 2002 by Andy McCormick
Remembered for his readings of numerous audio books, including the Dune books and Morgan's Run, talented stage and screen actor Tim Curry seems to be ubiquitous as he makes... Read more
Published on 11 Aug 2001
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