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55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and thought provoking first novel.
This first novel by author Jane Rusbridge caught my eye because it starts with a Glossary of Knots! I put it on the To Read pile. Then I picked it up and read the first chapter; a bad habit. Then I had to read it.

The book is stylishly written with an attention to detail which put me right back in the late 50s/early 60s of my childhood. The construction of the...
Published on 14 July 2009 by A. Young

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Story in knots
A family in 1950's Britain who have a daughter, Elaine, who is classed as mentally deficient. Andy the elder brother remembers a tragic accident on a seaside holiday and soon afterwards his mother disappears. The book is narrated by Andy as a child in the first person and also by himself 30 years later as an adult the mother's voice is narrated in the second person...
Published 18 months ago by C. Bannister


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55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and thought provoking first novel., 14 July 2009
By 
A. Young "Happy Idiot" (Selsdon, Surrey) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Devil's Music (Hardcover)
This first novel by author Jane Rusbridge caught my eye because it starts with a Glossary of Knots! I put it on the To Read pile. Then I picked it up and read the first chapter; a bad habit. Then I had to read it.

The book is stylishly written with an attention to detail which put me right back in the late 50s/early 60s of my childhood. The construction of the novel is cleverly designed to draw you in; well, it drew me in.

The opening chapter details a moment of everyday ordinariness which turns, in a split second, into a moment of nightmarish, life-changing horror. That tiny fraction of time when a life changes for ever.

The book is composed in five parts. In the first part, apparently unconnected stories of different people in differing times and places are laid down. The second and third parts find these stories touching, crossing, connecting and becoming clearer. In the fourth part of the book, the beauty of the pattern of this story has emerged and in the final part all strands are joined in a satisfying and interesting way. Rather like the tying of a complex knot I guess.

I particularly enjoyed the chapters written from the perspective of a nine year old boy, reminding me of Dirk Bogardes wonderful 'Great Meadow'. How might you feel when faced with a plate of Spam, lumpy mashed potato and beetroot? Yuk!

Very British, pleasingly understated and written in an entertaining style, the book touches on issues of interpersonal relationships, obsession, social taboos even the borderline-autism of the male mind.

I was left with a slight regret when I finished the book and feel a little jealous of those who haven't yet read it. That's how I usually feel when I finish a great book.

Thus, five stars.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant read which leaves you wanting more from this author, 7 July 2009
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This review is from: The Devil's Music (Hardcover)
A beautifully written story that will take you back to the 50s; you'll be captured by lino, candlewick bedspreads and apple snow as much as the memories of days on the beach!

With vivid portrayal of relationships and a brilliant ability to bring to painful life the contrasting realities of their experience; this writer still leaves you with a sense of hope.

This is an amazing first novel and one that is hard to put down. It's depth is enthralling - don't miss it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Devil's Music., 5 Oct 2009
This review is from: The Devil's Music (Hardcover)
From the opening tragedy and the melancholy of an English seaside in winter, this story draws the reader in. The strands of the tale are told from two alternating viewpoints - which are subtly drawn together and then spliced with finely wrought detail. The two principal characters, a mother and her son, are portrayed when he is a nine year old in the late 1950s; and again, thirty years later. Tension is built up almost imperceptibly throughout the story until events unfold into final gnosis and then catharsis.

This a beautifully put together novel which revels in almost photographic detail in its human interactions. The story is both powerful and gloriously sensual and leaves the reader unable to put it down until it is finished. We hope for more from Jane Rusbridge.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous summer read, 5 July 2009
By 
CS Green (Surrey) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Devil's Music (Hardcover)
An enthralling tale- I really cared about the characters and their intense relationships.The threads of the story were woven together so cleverly building to a thrilling climax.
Jane Rusbridge has written a novel which has a central theme of knots, quite unique in my reading experience. Beautifully worded descriptions evoked strong nostalgia for the seaside holidays of my childhood.
This is story telling at its best.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Story in knots, 4 Jun 2013
By 
C. Bannister (Jersey, CI) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Devil's Music (Paperback)
A family in 1950's Britain who have a daughter, Elaine, who is classed as mentally deficient. Andy the elder brother remembers a tragic accident on a seaside holiday and soon afterwards his mother disappears. The book is narrated by Andy as a child in the first person and also by himself 30 years later as an adult the mother's voice is narrated in the second person. Although I can see the reason why Jane Rusbridge chose this medium to tell her story I found it difficult to truly engage with her emotionally despite the tale she was telling being a tragic one.

I really enjoyed Andy's childhood narration, his fascination with knots and his deep relationship with his `Grampy' were both authentic and touching and his childhood fears were understandable given his father's irascibility. I also loved the front pages with illustrations of the knots that Andy learnt to tie at his grandfather's knee which went hand in hand with his childhood obsession with Houdini.

I didn't like Andy's adult voice though; he has become a wanderer leaving his younger sister to shoulder the burden of his father's death without his support. For me he became an unsympathetic character.

The author raised the stakes with her ending which I thought extremely fitting that certain conclusions are left to the reader to imagine.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Tale of Difficult Choices, 13 Aug 2009
By 
J. McKenzie (Bellingham, WA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Devil's Music (Hardcover)
The Devil's Music

Jane Rusbridge writes with great skill - revealing the deep and often dark secrets of a family that must struggle with more than its fair share of difficulties, tests and choices. The characters are finely drawn and fully developed so that we are allowed to see their trials from their perspective as she takes turns letting them carry the story forward. She brings events and moods to life in a painterly fashion, her control of language and its nuances being really quite exceptional.

The novel explores family tensions and turmoil in a vivid and often troubling manner as the adults wrestle with demons and disappointments that disrupt the lives of the children. Years after the horrific events of the first chapter, the children, now grown, are still trying to manage the emotional damage that ensued. Rusbridge reveals their adult difficulties with compassion while gradually revealing some surprising twists to the family's story that settle some of the mysteries that have hovered throughout the early chapters.

I look forward to more novels by Jane Rusbridge. She has a rare talent for character, psychology, mood and scene.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusual and thoroughly engaging, 13 July 2013
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This review is from: The Devil's Music (Kindle Edition)
Really enjoyed this book with its strange back story and gradual unravelling of the truth behind an assumption that has led the main character into very different pathways than he might have taken, had there been more honesty and openness in his childhood. Resonated with me because of someone I know who grew up around the same period when traumatic circumstances within the family were not discussed, and, despite being apparently successful in many ways, still has real issues stemming from feelings of guilt and confusion that have affected her throughout her life. Although it moved back and forth from present to past, this was done cleverly and effectively, and did not distract at all. Vivid descriptions had me visualising the locations and the characters were all very believable and engaging - real people, with all their good points, and their faults and foibles, their need for affection and fears around relationships.

Happily recommend this as a rather out of the routine, but very enjoyable book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb, evocative and perfectly structured, 9 July 2013
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This review is from: The Devil's Music (Kindle Edition)
Beautiful,lyrical and emotional. Told through three different voices the young boy Andrew, himself in his thirties and his mother this is an emotionally intelligent sensitive read. A page turner, wonderfully paced, evocative of the English seaside and life in growing up in the sixties. Sublime. Highly recommended
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars loved this book!, 22 Dec 2012
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This review is from: The Devil's Music (Paperback)
I found The Devil's Music by Jane Rusbridge immediately engaging for three main reasons: the subject matter (I'm a sucker for a tragedy that blows a family apart) the coastal setting, which is strikingly evoked in all its weather-beaten savagery, and the language, which is consistently assured and precise.

Andy's story is narrated in the first person, both as a child and as an adult, and his mother's story is told in the less common second person. I've only come across straight second person narration a few times before, and it hasn't always worked, but here the mother's second person voice is haunting and incredibly affecting. I remember once hearing a woman being interviewed about her experience of domestic abuse. I was struck by the fact that she referred to herself constantly in the second person, and I wondered if it was because she couldn't bear to inhabit the 'self' that had experienced such trauma; I wondered the same about this character, who has also had her share of trauma. Whether it was the author's intention to suggest this distancing from the traumatised self, I don't know, but it worked for me!

The story centres around Andy, who, following his father's death, returns to the family's seaside holiday home to prepare it for sale. Andy has been living in Crete, working in a taverna and trying to erase the sad life he left behind in England. When he returns to the very beach where, as a young child, he'd been left in charge of his baby sister Elaine, he is forced to face the memories that he's been trying to escape: memories of Elaine, labelled 'Mentally Deficient' soon after her birth, of his abusive father, Michael, and of his depressed and grief-stricken mother who abandoned him and his other sister Susie when they were children. There are happier memories of his rope-maker grandfather, who taught the young Andy how to make rope and tie knots, an activity in which Andy still finds comfort, as well as a means of artistic expression. As the story moves towards its climax, there's a truly surprising revelation, followed by a postscript in which we learn more about Andy's mother, this time from a third person viewpoint. I found the ending both satisfying and moving.

Jane Rusbridge's writing is vivid and controlled, and her attention to detail is meticulous, particularly the period detail, which was so subtly done that it felt effortless. I enjoyed this book immensely!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exquisitely witten novel, 26 July 2012
By 
M CABARET "Jill Cabaret" (Douchy, France) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Devil's Music (Paperback)
This is an exquisitely witten novel, I enjoyed every second reading it. Jane Rusbridge is an extremely talented writter evoking characters & places to the perfection. A passionate & beautifully woven story. I have already ordered her second book 'Rook'available from the 2nd of August.
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The Devil's Music
The Devil's Music by Jane Rusbridge (Paperback - 19 April 2010)
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