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Time Will Tell [Hardcover]

Donald Greig
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Sep 2012

Andrew Eiger, an ambitious American musicologist, is stuck in a small college in the Midwest when fate delivers him an original fifteenth-century manuscript. It’s his calling card to the finest academic institutions, but first he has to crack the notational code and convince Emma Mitchell – the dynamic conductor of the renowned early-music group, Beyond Compère – to share his vision of the composition’s glittering premiere. But who wrote it? The true story is yet to be discovered, hidden in a memoir that describes the treachery of the famous Josquin Desprez.

Deftly blending farce with acute knowledge of life as a performer, Donald Greig’s impressive first novel is a thrilling behind-the-scenes tale set in the world of classical music. Witty and informative, it skilfully refracts the present day through the prism of the past, weaving themes of memory, ambition, friendship and love.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 204 pages
  • Publisher: Thames River Press (1 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857286242
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857286246
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 668,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Donald Greig is a professional singer and sometime academic. He was a choirboy at Westminster Abbey and later studied film at Kent University. By accident rather than design, he became a specialist in early music, singing with such groups as The Tallis Scholars and The Orlando Consort, and also singing in musicals and on sessions. He is published as an academic in film and musicology, but his real love is creative writing. Time Will Tell is his first novel and draws on his experiences as an academic and singer.

Product Description


‘Greig can write fiction; in spades, as it turns out. [He] has his own persuasive voice and romantic style. The characters are well drawn, the observations astute, and the intellectual content convincing and approachable. Most importantly, “Time Will Tell” is funny (actually, really very funny at times) and gripping.’ —Jeremy Summerly ‘Choir and Organ’

‘[Greig] write[s] with verve and a wit capable of summing up characters with a single devastatingly accurate observation. [T]his is not a book solely for specialists and demands no prior knowledge of early music.’ —Edward Breen, ‘Early Music Today’

‘Greig has a gift for drawing characters as much as he has for pacing his set-pieces [and] it is as a study in character that this thriller should be enjoyed, not as an academic by-product.’ — Peter Phillips, ‘Spectator’

‘Amalgamate mystique, distinctive character progression and immense knowledge of music and what you have is “Time Will Tell” by Donald Greig.’ —Taimur Saih, ‘Dawn’

‘A remarkable first novel.’ —‘Early Music America’

‘A colourful and intriguing book.’ —ClassicsToday.com

‘“Time Will Tell” is darkly humorous and rich with detail. The time shifts between the 15th and 20th centuries, and then the transition to the 21st, are smooth and clear. The fully-rounded major characters have distinctive voices and the personalities he invented for the 15th–16th century characters are vivid. Reading “Time Will Tell”, one feels that human nature hasn't changed much through five hundred years.’ —Ruth Latta, www.compulsivereader.com

‘As you might expect, “Time Will Tell” captures well the world of the itinerant professional vocal ensemble.’ —Andrew Green, ‘Classical Music Magazine’

‘A good read—enjoyable and thoughtful at the same time.’ —Maria Coldwell, ‘Early Music America’


‘A fascinating double glimpse into the world of modern singers and medieval music.’ —Terry Jones (Monty Python)

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Customer Reviews

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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An original voice 7 Nov 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Reviewers of novels often fall back on the trusty "favourable comparison with classic of the same genre" device when they want to express their admiration for a new writer, and I'm happy to follow in that tradition by saying with confidence that Donald Greig's "Time Will Tell" sits securely on the same shelf as "The Daughter of Time", Josephine Tey's masterly investigative novel which reappraises King Richard III. But Greig is his own man, and he offers his readers a cunningly-constructed story with a satisfying and plausible surprise at the end. Yes, it's about obscure music from the distant past: but with 16th-century motets in the cd charts because of a certain chick-lit bestseller, there's never been a better time to enjoy a novel that shows there's nothing grey (geddit?) about musicians' lives, then or now. I must declare an interest: I've worked with Don Greig over many years, and it's a pleasure but no surprise to find that he's a writer as well as a singer. One of the best things about "Time Will Tell" is the utter believability of the professional singers: "Beyond Compere" is the best early music group name for a long time, and Emma and her colleagues would be wonderful guests in a radio studio.

Catherine Bott, presenter, The Early Music Show, BBC Radio 3.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting and beautifully written 7 Nov 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed Time Will Tell. It captures just perfectly the world of the touring early music singer in all its fun, dedicated and sometimes wayward glory! I loved the way the musicians' lives were mirrored between the centuries and came away aching to know more about the composers mentioned and their lives. A really engrossing read, I recommend it to everyone, early music fan or no.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A musical feast 3 Oct 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a rabid early-music fan, I couldn't believe my luck: a novel about 15th century music which blends facts, informed speculation, and light-hearted invention to tell the story of a lost motet by Johannes Ockeghem, with counterpoint provided by an affectionate account of life in a contemporary touring choral group. A wealth of musicological and historical background is embedded in a suspenseful plot & witty writing. May it lead to a revival of interest in this glorious music, as well as more books from Mr Greig.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Just finished reading Don Greig's Time Will Tell. For anyone who appreciates fluid, engaging prose and early music or Medieval/Renaissance art, with a good mix of humour and drama, it's a must-read. Think of it as a sort of Matthew Vine meets Umberto Eco and Johannes Ockeghem, on tour, in one of the best bars you've ever visited. Throws up some incredibly interesting and stimulating questions about the act of writing a history and how creatively this can be done, in a subtle yet engaging manner. Definitely appealing to historians and musicians alike.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read 12 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I'm an early music enthusiast, but you don't need to be one to appreciate it, as the plot is accessible and well-crafted. The story bowls along at a good pace, assisted by some deft characterisation and sparkling touches of humour, and on the whole I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who likes a good intellectual mystery. I'm giving it four stars rather than five, however, because of one incident that happens near the end of the book which seems - to me at least - somewhat "out of the blue"; I can't account for it in terms of either character or plot development.

I would very much like to read more from this author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lost masterpiece 12 Nov 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was recommended with book by a professional singer who had bought his own copy to support friend. This was a good start - if one musician speaks well of another without professional doubts or jealousy.

I enjoy choral music, history and a detective trail. I found much scholarly illumination in the context of a novel which was gave us two narrative stories. Knowing some singers, the trials, personal tribulations and triumphs of a contemporary choral group as they tour was an engaging plot line. The vine of historical reconstruction and characterising of the renaissance composers gave added strength and interest. What engaged and captivated me more than anything was the detective in the reconstruction of a lost manuscript. I am more familiar with the medieval and renaissance mind, numbers and proportions related to architecture so I found the analysis of the lost work's character great fun. The author made it accessible and I ended the book wishing to know more of the works I merely listen to on CD

The author should now compose!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unusual setting for a mystery novel 8 Nov 2012
By parker
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Thanks Don for coming up with this idea. Setting a story across two time periods is not a new idea but doing so in such a specialist area of interest surely is. One of the strengths of this story is that the author clearly knows the world(s) that it's set in. Too often one is left to wonder as to why a writer would bother to conduct so much reseach on a setting / topic when it is obviously so much wiser to write about what you undertsand already! Very happy to be seduced back into listening to early music in this way - I had abandoned it completely. Have ordered a second copy for a friend and no doubt will be contemplating the odd CD or two in the very near future.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Ancient music
A book which will appeal to those who are both interested in history and
in ancient music. For them it will be a real page-turner.
Published 7 months ago by omandjo
4.0 out of 5 stars Beyond Compere
Would recommend to anyone with some knowledge of Early Music.Amusing and interesting debut novel. Wish the protagonist had really found that lost motet by the incomparable johannes... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Claudia Fournier
4.0 out of 5 stars All together an amazing first book.
I like singing and am a member of a community choir but that's as far as my knowledge goes about professional classical singers. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Beth
4.0 out of 5 stars Certainly different!
Very well written, the characters have a life which comes across the page naturally. It is probably the most unusual book I have read in years but one which needs a musical... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Joyce
5.0 out of 5 stars Time Will Tell, by Donald Greig
I interviewed Donald Greig for radio on the day of his Book Launch in Brighton and enjoyed the facility of checking out the book on Kindle before the interview. Read more
Published 17 months ago by janban
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly written
I was terribly impressed by the sheer quality of this author's writing, and then I go on to find that it's his first novel. Many congratulations. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Lovejoy
5.0 out of 5 stars Great First Novel
I know almost nothing about any music written before about 1973 so approached this with some trepidation. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Gusto
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read.
A mystery - with elements of black humour and real insights into the not-so-rarified world of the 'early music' scene. Written by someone who really knows his stuff and with style.
Published 20 months ago by M K Carewe
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