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Frozen Music: Reissued Paperback – 15 Mar 2012
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'Dreamy yet dextrous' (Observer)
'Deliciously descriptive ... beneath its charm lie serious truths' (She)
'A warm, funny novel' (Daily Mail)
From the Publisher
Recent reviews for Frozen Music
'Cobbold's first-person novel takes her heroine, Esther, from lonely childhood to life in her mid-thirties as a magazine journalist. Her story is paralleled by that of Linus, a Swedish boy, as both are idealists and outsiders, you suspect from the start that they will end up together. Esther is a woman who thinks she knows the rules, until a series of events forces her to see cause and effect in every gesture, and paralyses her with indecision;Linus is a man with a clear, bright dream, which Esther nearly destroys. Cobbold is an interesting writer; perceptive and funny, she deals with ideas and issues far deeper than her light tone... would have you believe.' (PB) Sunday Times Culture Magazine
'Funny and enjoyable with some weightier themes beneath the fluffiness' The Independent on Sunday
'Pride and Prejudice, Scandinavian style' Express on Sunday
'Dreamy yet dextrous' The Observer
'A warm, funny novel' Daily Mail
'Deliciously descriptive...beneath its charm lie serious truths' She --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product description
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Top customer reviews
Esther Fisher, a journalist living in London, tells us the story of her lonely childhood and of her love/hate relationship with her very feminine, rather vague mother, Audrey, who makes no secret of the fact that she finds Esther too independently minded. As times goes on, we see Esther develop into a rather confused and obsessive adult, who worries continually that something she unwittingly does will have a tragic effect on someone else. This eventually becomes so paralysing that Esther cannot do her job effectively and she finds herself heading for a complete breakdown. Esther realizes she must do something to take hold of her life, but she isn't quite sure what.
Running parallel to Esther's story we read about Linus Stendal, a talented architect living in Sweden who grows up alone with his father, after his mother commits suicide. (No spoilers here, we learn this early in the novel). When his father marries Olivia, an English woman, who is a friend of Esther's mother, Linus and Esther learn quite a lot about each other, but when they finally meet in England, they find themselves in direct opposition to one another, and when Linus returns to Sweden, neither of them expects to meet again. However, family circumstances force them together again when Esther comes to Linus's beautiful holiday home, and as Esther gets to know Linus better, she is surprised to find herself falling for him. But Linus has met the lovely Pernilla with her golden hair, golden skin and beautiful green eyes, so why should he pay any attention to Esther? And while Esther is suffering from unrequited love, there are other events to occupy her, including the discovery of a secret diary, a near death experience and, not least, the revelation of more than one skeleton that comes tumbling out of the family closet. But will there be a happy ending for Esther?
Marika Cobbold tackles some rather serious issues in her novel and she carries this out in a straight forward, yet sympathetic way, cleverly bringing some dark humour into some of the difficult areas she covers. In Esther, the author has created a complex, but engaging character and I was drawn into her story immediately. I found 'Frozen Music' a well written, thought-provoking, darkly amusing and very entertaining read full of interesting characters in intriguing situations; it is a romance, but in other ways it is much more.
the long run. A really good read!!
Esther Fisher, the first person narrator for much of the novel, is a sufferer from obsessive compulsive syndrome. This, coupled with a tricky relationship with her smothering, overprotective mother (who wants a quiet, musical prodigy for a daughter and gets the cross Esther instead) means that she has a thoroughly miserable childhood. She tries to control her messy life by setting herself a series of strict rules for living. These get her through Oxford and into a career as a tabloid journalist (for one of the better tabloids). But when her rules prove useless to prevent two disasters, she suffers a nervous breakdown and begins to find decision making impossible. She is roused from her depression by hearing the news that a Kent businessman is planning to build a 'people's opera house' in the Kent countryside - unfortunately demolishing an old cottage inhabited by an eighty-something brother and sister in the process. Esther springs to the brother and sister's defence - only to realize that the architect of the new opera house is Linus, the Swedish stepson of her mother's best friend. Linus's story has run parallel to Esther throughout the book (though told in less detail and in the third person). While Esther is stormy, and tries to live out her life by strict rules, Linus is a dreamy, rather melancholy boy, who lost his mother at a young age, and who spends his spare time drawing architectural plans and creating stories about his 'ideal' life. He is a superb worker and a brilliant architect, but unable to cope with human relationships. He gets on badly with his stern father Bertil (though he likes his stepmother Olivia) and his marriage to the tetchy Lotten ends in early divorce. Building the new opera house is both proof to himself that his life has not been a failure, and a tribute to his dead mother - an opera singer. And he does not want Esther and the force of the press to get in his way. However, when Esther's mother ends up breaking her ankle on a visit to Linus's family in Sweden, and Esther comes to look after her, the pair are forced to get to know each other - and find that they have more in common than they think. And when Esther discovers a secret about Linus's dead mother, they are brought still closer together. But there still remains the problem of the opera house. Will Esther and Linus resolve their differences? Or will their principles mean that they are unable to have a relationship at all?
This is a well-told novel, with some vivid characters and interesting situations. There are also some wonderful descriptions of Sweden in the section where Esther stays with Linus's family - and Cobbold keeps you guessing to the last about how the opera house dilemma will be resolved. Cobbold explores rather wittily Esther and Linus's gradual move towards self-acceptance and self-knowledge, and their growing love for each other is rather movingly depicted - particularly as Esther has believed herself incapable of such feelings. However, I found that long sections of the novel made painful reading, and that passages irritated me a lot. The descriptions of Esther's angsty childhood and OCD condition were vivid but also very upsetting, particularly as she never seemed to quite realize what was the matter with her - the attempt to put some humour into it just made everything worse. I found the way in which Esther's miserable life was described almost too painful to read about at times - she was a strange mixture of perceptiveness and total naivety. Linus too had a miserable time as a child and seemed only able to cope with certain aspects of life - and his horrible marriage led to many extremely miserable scenes. Along with this bleakness went a rather forced black comedy and a tendency to melodrama (particularly in the scenes in Sweden and towards the end of the opera house row). Too many of the characters were little more than caricatures - Ulla the 'troll-like' 'aunty' figure with the sinister secret, the nasty conductor who ruined the life of Linus's mother, Esther's mother Audrey, who after her divorce retires to bed for life to eat jam doughnuts, Gerald the unprepossessing uncle, the bossy and shrill Lotten, Pernilla the sex symbol, George the 'old codger' whose cottage was under threat etc. The mixture of almost farcical comedy, bleak descriptions of two people 'unsuited for life', melodrama and romance didn't quite work for me. I was glad I read the book, and got quite a lot out of it - but I can't say I enjoyed it hugely as such.