Customer Reviews


66 Reviews
5 star:
 (33)
4 star:
 (20)
3 star:
 (8)
2 star:
 (4)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully-written memoir almost like a novel
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...
Published on 25 Feb 2009 by Alan Pavelin

versus
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars the music room
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...
Published on 5 Mar 2009 by E. Dale


‹ Previous | 1 27 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully-written memoir almost like a novel, 25 Feb 2009
By 
Alan Pavelin (Chislehurst, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Music Room (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars the music room, 5 Mar 2009
By 
E. Dale "elained2" (W. Yorks, England UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Music Room (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, moving and perfectly-crafted, 25 Feb 2009
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Music Room (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written and poignant, 22 April 2009
By 
Four Violets (Hertford UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Music Room (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book to Savour, 5 Mar 2009
By 
Richard M. Seel (Norfolk UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Music Room (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A book to enjoy, beautifully written with delightful imagery. Each chapter is to be savoured, not rushed through but allowed to permeate through your soul.

A book clearly showing the love of parents for a son and a younger brother for his older brother who has severe epilepsy.

I loved the apparent ordinariness of living in a castle, the casual acceptance opening the castle and grounds in the summer for fairs and fundraising events with the resulting hordes of visitors.

The way in which the parents cope with their oldest son's extreme mood swings is amazing and how the younger brother (the writer) did not seem aware of the need to treat him any differently was a tribute to the acceptance of his brother's disability. References to treatment for epilepsy were interesting and some might say it interferes with the enjoyment of the book but I did not find this to be the case.

I have to admit to a longing to have been brought up in this particular castle, the freedom to explore, no protective parents stopping the adventures of the younger son as he fishes or swims in the moat, climbs into the tree house and wanders through the towers and rooms of the castle, sometimes worried about ghosts.

A lovely book to take away on a quiet weekend.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stylish Elegy, 21 Mar 2009
By 
Donald Thompson "waldo357" (Belfast N Ireland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Music Room (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
William Fiennes is an author with the award winning Snow Geese already under his belt. This fine autobiographical account of his life with his epilepsy suffering brother will only add to his reputation. The story is rich in detail of the extraordinary early life he shared with his family in a moated castle with all the attendant tasks of guiding tourists, repairing a 700 year old castle, keeping the moat serviceable and all the other tasks that were unknown to those of us who just wanted to live in one. Underscoring this idyll is the brother Rich victim of epilepsy and its inherent mood swings. A history of the medical professions attempts to understand the illness keeps pace with the developing character of Rich. From normal happy go lucky child to increasingly hostile and violent adult, through to the inevitable death from the illness. The story never ceases to fascinate and engage. As a quest to understand the person behind the illness, this truly elegiac story of a lost brother and a hymn to a lost way of life many of us will never experience enthralls from the first to last page.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully well-written memoir, 10 April 2009
This review is from: The Music Room (Hardcover)
I loved this book. I loved the imagery, the setting, the love, the family, the honesty, the poetry and the sweet sadness of the story. I read a review calling it a 'small masterpiece' and I totally agree. It is a masterpiece but one which flows fluently and without pretension. It took me just a day to read. I truly hope that it is a great success as a tribute to his brother and his whole family.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest, sympathetic and unsentimental, 25 Mar 2009
By 
Mr. RB FORTUNE-WOOD "Rowan" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Music Room (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
An autobiographical book about William Fiennes childhood, The Music Room is a compassionate but unsentimental examination of unusual beginnings. Fiennes was brought up in a moated castle with his epileptic brother Richard; living amongst historical tours, circuses, theatre performances, ghosts and other oddities he recalls that he never saw any of this as odd until he invited friends to his home from boarding school, it was just the way life was. There is a sweeping narrative in this work that is cleverly interspersed with a brief history of the study of epilepsy and wider reflections about the nature of the mind.

Despite the moderate length I came away from this feeling as though I had read a much longer book. Fiennes has a real talent for conveying something of the passage of years, the steady alternations of life. In his descriptions of his brother he is incredibly honest, detailing violence, over exuberance and moments of affection, the tragedy of his brother's brain damage and epilepsy and his own early confusion about how to relate to his brothers behaviour. If I have one minor criticism it is that I often wanted to know more about the author himself; much of this book looks at Richard and the castle, but there is something slightly elusive about Fiennes.

Overall a decent and recommendable read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very different childhood and a beautiful tribute, 20 Mar 2009
By 
A. I. McCulloch (Co Durham) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Music Room (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
William Fiennes' The Snow Geese is a beautifully written travelogue that incorporates autobiography and is a justified best-seller. The Music Room is a very different kind of book, still beautifully written but containing many threads that draw together to make the whole.

It is an evocation of childhood, but of a childhood spent in Broughton Castle, a truly stunning 400 year old building in Oxfordshire. William spent his early life surrounded by fascinating artifacts collected by ancestors, with a moat as his swimming pool, fishing pond and skating rink.

William had no siblings near to him in age and no neighbourhood children to play with, but this is not an account of deprivation. William did have his brother Richard (Rich), eleven years his senior, but due to severe epilepsy much nearer William in intellect.

To say that life with Rich was challenging would be a massive understatement. His brain scarred by seizures, the cocktail of drugs Rich took on a daily basis provoked violent and erratic behaviour at times, made harder to bear by the verbal abuse that accompanied it. Yet when the outbursts had subsided Rich was deeply contrite. Frequently he had no memory of the hurt he caused.

Rich's chief obsession was Leeds United football club and their performances coloured his moods to a dramatic extent. Thankfully for the Fiennes family, Richard's obsession coincided with glory days at the club, but even so, Saturday afternoons must have been tightrope walks for them all.

Richard and William's parents emerge as heroic in the way they constantly battled for Richard, the diaries kept to ensure medical and care staff had the fullest possible picture. The Music Room also contains a potted medical and social history of epilepsy, of the nightmarish experiments undertaken in early discoveries.

By the end of the book I felt I knew Rich Fiennes as well as I possibly could have done but William less so. William's parents are still living - still young himself, perhaps more will be revealed of William in later books.

For his parents, this is a memorable tribute by a son to another deeply loved son, who at times must have been very difficult to love.

Quite a special family, the Fiennes'.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful memoir of a childhood and brotherhood, 12 Mar 2009
By 
Brida "izumi" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Music Room (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
THE MUSIC ROOM is Fiennes's touching memoir of his childhood growing up in a castle which was nearly 700 years old. But it is also a beautiful memoir of what it is like to grow up with an older brother who suffers from sever epilepsy. Due to his epilepsy, Richard's brain suffers damage which has a profound effect on his beahviour and his personality - for example, it can make him violent if he does not get his own way.
Reading Fiennes's memoir, what struck me was how Richard's presence had a profound effect upon the household. As Fiennes explains, there was often the threat of violence, which as a child, he seemed drawn to - he would try and provoke his brother on purpose just for the reaction it would create. The honesty in admitting this is quite astounding. But what also strikes you as you read this book is how Fiennes's own perception of his older brother changes as he himself grows. At first, he could not understand that his behaviour was due to brian damage but this then turns into something else:-
"I couldn't think of Richard's personality as a set of symptoms; I couldn't think of his character as a manifestation of disease. That would have implied the existence of an ideal healthy Richard my brother was an imperfection of, a dream-Richard this actual person couldn't measure up against. But there wasn't any other Richard" (p.97).
THE MUSIC ROOM is beautifully written - there is honesty, tenderness and love within the pages. The subject matter is gently handled making you reconsider any preconceptions you may have previously held. I would recommend it to anyone.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 27 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First
ARRAY(0xa83eb9f0)

This product

The Music Room
The Music Room by William Fiennes (Paperback - 5 Mar 2010)
6.29
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews