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The Travelling Horn Player Hardcover – 2 Apr 1998

4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Hamish Hamilton Ltd; First Edition edition (2 April 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241136946
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241136942
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.5 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,497,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Twined around Schubert's Die schöne Müllerin (which her mathematician father often sang), award-winning novelist Barbara Trapido's fifth book unravels the interconnected histories of Ellen, Jonathan and Stella and their friends, lovers and relations. Part Bildungsroman, part La Ronde, the novel's focal point is the moment when Ellen's younger sister Lydia is run over and killed outside novelist Jonathan Goldman's London flat.

Ellen and Lydia--or, to their headmaster father, "Gigglers One and Two"--were as close as sisters could be. They read romantic novels and giggled, talked about sex in front of their tiny stepmother and giggled, and helped Lydia's godmother make carrot cake for Jonathan, aka "The Novelist" and giggled. Then Lydia is killed. And Ellen stops giggling. She returns to Edinburgh University to discover her flatmates gone, leaving only a copy of Heart of Darkness and a drawing in lieu of money for the gas bill.

Rich and kindly Pen, older than his 23 years, and the madly talented artist Izzy have graduated. But what's happened to Stella, the obsessive and naive red-headed cellist?

Starring an array of attractive eccentrics, riven with elegant coincidence, and culminating in an utterly theatrical denouement, Trapido's fable of love and loss, families and loneliness, sex and religion, is romantic as Schubert, clever as an Oxford mathematician and heartbreaking as anything. --Lisa Gee


'Her fans might be forgiven for thinking this writer couldn't get any better. She just has' Guardian 'There aren't many novelists whose stories one doesn't want to end but Barbara Trapido is one of them' Mail on Sunday 'The woman is brilliant. She deserves to be up there, topping the bestseller lists and winning all the prizes. And she actually makes you laugh ... I enjoyed every page of this book' Daily Mail 'Reading Barbara Trapido is sheer pleasure. Afterwards, I went out and bought everything else she has written - and am only disappointed I didn't do it earlier' Independent on Sunday Books of the Year --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 July 2000
Format: Paperback
The plot is improbable, and the conclusion, if you think about it, unsatisfying and depressing. But Barbara Trapido is such an excellent writer that one comes out from the reading exhilirated and hungry for more. Trapido is an eloquent and captivating writer, and you won't be able to put this book down.
This is the latest installment in Trapido's series, but you don't need to read the others (although you'll want to, afterwards) to understand or appreciate it. This is the book I read first, before going back and reading the preceding ones in the series, and this seems to be Trapido's best. If she gets better with time, I can't wait for her next book, which is supposed to be due out this year.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Evabrick on 7 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Since first reading "Brother of the More Famous Jack" many, many years ago I have been hooked by Barbara Trapido. I decided to start re-reading them and can honestly say that they have not lost their appeal. The Travelling Hornplayer, made me laugh out loud (pity I was on a bus) made me sad but never failed to entertain. I must now buy "Sex and Stravinsky" my only missing Trapido tome.......
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cat Lady on 1 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thoroughly enjoyable, it would have had 5 stars but for the rather improbable ending. It made me laugh out loud!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. J. B. Bell on 19 Aug. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was recommended by a member of our book group as a good funny holiday read. I didn't think there was anything humorous about this book at all. I found the characters very superficial and did not take any of them. The style of writing just did not appeal to me hence I gave up about half way through and picked up a much better read.
Personally I would not recommend this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 19 reviews
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
i was hooked on it the moment i turned to the first page.. 17 Jun. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is my first Barbara Trepido book- And i'm absolutely delighted with it! The different storytellers in the book brings to life the plot with their personal narration. Each spin their part of the tale by recounting their life experiences, and this culminates in an intricately woven plot littered with unexpected revelations that fit perfectly together like lost pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. As the plot unfolds, the characters' lives unfold before us, and one cannot help but feel for them and even relating to them. Bizarre and almost exotic their lives may be, yet there are qualities in Barbara's characters that the reader can identify with. In the midst of admiring them for their talent and beauty, we pity Ellen for the loss of her sister; we wonder at, yet understand Katherine's maniacal zeal in caring for her daughter; we shrug at Stella's fragile sense of insecurity and over-commitment to her boyfriend. Barbara explores love, loss and betrayal, death, lonliness and ingratitude in her quirky and comical manner, interspersed with allusions to Wilheim Muller and Conrad which seem to be the connecting thread throughout the novel. The plot comes full circle, the ending even if a little too coincidental, pulls the curtains on this story to a splendid close, deserving of a standing ovation.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Intriguing, yet warm and personal - beautifully written 19 Jan. 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
"The Travelling Hornplayer" is the first I've read of Barbara Trapido's and it won't be the last. It's such a pleasure reading this finely written yet understated gem of novel I didn't want it to end. It's hard to describe the type of novel TH is because it's got all the elements of mystery, intrigue, personal tragedy, loss and betrayal that provide the natural ingredients for a great novel but it is only in Trapido's expert hands that all these elements come together to produce a finely judged and balanced whole. The novel is personal, warm and engaging. Her characters - without exception, down to the minor ones - are brilliantly defined and come to life. They leap out at you from the pages like real human beings because they're neither good nor bad, just people with all their frailties. Recounted in flashback and by rotation through the eyes of Ellen, Jonathan and Stella, Trapido weaves together personal contemplation, plot development and social commentary into a complex mosaic of splendour and intrigue. Lydia, a ghost-like figure hovering over the proceedings, is the catalyst for the novel's dramatic development. She is also the glue that binds the loose pieces together. Trapido's genius is to engineer a denouement that is emotionally congruent, satisfying and uplifting. Amidst the avalanche of new titles being published each week, it is easy to miss this wonderfully little gem of a novel. It would have escaped my attention had it not won the Whitbread Prize award. Please don't miss it. "The Travelling Hornplayer" deserves to be read by all who love good literature.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
From the first pages, this book was pure joy. 28 Mar. 1999
By Kathleen Sullivan - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I felt almost as thought P. G. Wodehouse had been reincarnated in the body of a 90's woman, so droll and sly is the humor and intelligence of the main characters, even as they deal with all the traditional and contemporary tragedies--accidental death, AIDS, crib death, suicide, dyslexia, adultery. The story revolves around the tragic death of a young girl, 17-year old Lydia Dent, and how each of the characters come to be directly or indirectly involved in her death, without realizing it or knowing each other until the beautiful tapestry of this plot brings them together. Excellent book
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
An unforgettable book, period! 27 Oct. 2001
By Michael K. Smith - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is the first of Trapido's novels I've read and I confess to being thoroughly smitten. This is, to put it oddly, the most beautifully structured novel I've read in many years. There's sixteen-year-old Lydia Dent, who is very close to her one-year-older sister, Ellen. There's Jonathan the Novelist, on whom Lydia develops a serious crush . . . and outside whose flat she is run over by an automobile. There's Jonathan's daughter, Stella the Nuisance Chip, who grows from a very unpromising childhood into an astonishingly beautiful and talented musician. Ellen, Jonathan, and Stella take turns telling the story, each from a quite different viewpoint, and being interrupted occasionally by an omniscient narrator who makes sure the reader is aware of certain things. These key characters are extremely well developed and you'll know them intimately by the end of the book, but even the supporting cast are multi-dimensional: Pen Massingham, the wealthy young Catholic schoolmate of Ellen's and Stella's; Izzy, the thoroughly disgusting young artist of genius; Ellen's and Lydia's stepmother (known to them as The Stepmother); Jonathan's wife, Katherine, who has dedicated her life to her daughter; Sonia, the brilliant and vivacious lover-turned friend -- even Jonathan's younger siblings are drawn believably and with great care. I often imagine how a novel I enjoy could be redone as a film script -- since novels and scripts are very different forms of literature -- but this is one time I'll take a pass. There's absolutely nothing in this very funny, very touching novel that could be excised without fatally damaging all the rest of it. Trapido goes on my permanent "watch" list.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
stunning 21 Mar. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Trapido's collection of characters, as intelligent and witty as we'd like to be in real life, seem to come full circle in this latest novel. with amazing and stunning twists and turns ultimately it feels as if you are catching up on the interesting parts of peoples lifetimes, meeting old friends. sexy in an understated way and genuinely moving over all, this is a book i have read so many times and cannot recommend highly enough.
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