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The Music Room Audio Download – Unabridged

4.3 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio Download
  • Listening Length: 5 hours and 32 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: ISIS Audio Books
  • Audible.co.uk Release Date: 26 Oct. 2009
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002UEYA46

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Broughton Castle in Oxfordshire is a 700-year-old stately home which nowadays attracts numerous visitors and film crews. William Fiennes, whose family has lived there for centuries, is a journalist and writer whose previous autobiographical book, The Snow Geese, ended with him returning to Broughton. He has now written his own account of growing up there, in particular with his older brother Richard who suffered from severe epilepsy and was often very difficult and even violent.

If one didn't know otherwise, one might take this memoir for a first-person fiction. It seems to me that Fiennes takes a step back from the specificity of time and place which a factual memoir would emphasise; for example, the phrase "Broughton Castle" does not occur at all. There are many reconstructed conversations which, I suspect, are a long way from pure reportage. It is like an imaginative and beautifully-written novel, interspersed with accounts of past scientific research into epilepsy (complete with a list of sources at the end).

The book covers a roughly 25-year time span, up to the time of Richard's death at age 41, a death which suddenly and unexpectedly intrudes into the narrative by way of a 10-word sentence (which, coincidentally, I reached just hours after hearing the news of young Ivan Cameron). We read how the young narrator grew up with the regular intrusion of film crews and well-known TV stars as part of normal domestic life, and we can imagine his surprise on discovering that most homes do not have such experiences!

This book will be of interest to anyone who has visited Broughton Castle, and to anyone else who enjoys an excellently-written account of growing up in a stately home.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I did find this a bit heavy-going at first but I stuck with it. It is essentually a story of epilepsy and the effect the sufferer has on the rest of the family. William's brother Richard has epilepsy and this has caused brainn damage. Richard is expelled from a couple of epilepsy centres because of his violence. When he is home in the holidays the rest of the family treat him normally. William doesn't understand that his brother has no control over his emotions so as a young boy tests him to see how far he can go. It's only has William gets older he realises the full extent of Richard's condition. Richard will never be a fully independent adult as he himself will be. Sadly Rich dies in the epilepsy centre during a bad seizure. He is forty-one. Very poignant, Rich's mum is particularly upset at the death of one of her children. All the way through the book is interspersed with the history of the treatment and causes of epilepsy from the very early times in ancinet Greece to the present day. Really interesting read. Buy this book, I guarantee you won't disappointed.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Music Room is an elegiac memoir that interweaves three strands: the narrator's own idyllic childhood in a historic castle in the Midlands; a portrait of his elder brother, Richard, who suffers from severe epilepsy and brain damage; and a medical history of the understanding of epilepsy and brain neurological function. None of which might sound particularly riveting, but Fiennes has won prizes before and this book shows why.

Not a word is out of place (without any kind of conscious `literariness') as he navigates his way through this story. And what stood out most of all for me was the very ordinariness of the family: despite their home and life-style, despite Richard's illness, at heart this is a story about the deep, unquestioning, patient and tolerant love that makes the family what it is. The narrator says that he always understood that Richard was `different' from other brothers but he never fantasises an ideal Richard. The brother he has is who he is, and that is accepted.

The portrait of Richard himself is both harrowing and immensely tender: his illness is so bad that he is sent away to an epilepsy treatment centre during the week and only comes home at weekends. Gentle and somehow innocent, he slides into a pattern of violence, aggression, anger that takes it toll on everyone around him, not least those who love him best.

Fiennes writes with a very light touch: nothing is over-stated, everything restrained and spoken with dignity and respect. Images of Richard's father leaning against the house to draw strength from its centuries-old stone; his mother washing her adult son after he has wet the bed again, are offset by shimmering pictures of Richard holding an injured bird in his huge hands, and his triumphant recital of a remembered poem at his birthday party.

Ultimately this is a compassionate and very humane book, and one imbued with a kind of love not often celebrated in literature. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
William Fiennes, (related not only to the explorer Ranulph Fiennes but to actors Ralph and Joseph Fiennes), grew up in a moated manor house in Oxfordshire. Dating back in part to 1300, it features as Gwyneth Paltrow's house in "Shakespeare in Love", and the castle in "Three Men and a Little Lady" and also in "The Madness of King George". William Fiennes grew up familiar with film crews, hordes of visitors, and garden parties, surrounded by staff and his family - until he was sent away to boarding school at the age of eight. His older brother Richard was epileptic, and this book intersperses beautifully lyrical descriptions of what it was like to have such an enchanted boyhood with a great deal of interesting information about how epilepsy was researched and treated.

One of the unfortunate side effects of epilepsy is mood changes and aggression. It is a tribute to the book, the author and his family that even while describing how difficult and at times dangerous Richard could seem, the whole atmosphere is one of love and acceptance. The prose is enviably bewitching and evocative. The whereabouts of the castle is not mentioned but is easy to discover; however surely the exact location is not important...this is another world, almost another "lost domain." The book stays in the mind for a very long time after it is finished.
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