The Music Room Hardcover – 3 Apr 2009
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'A small masterpiece, a tribute to the power of place, family and memory, and to a childhood that was part idyll, part nightmare'
-- Daily Telegraph - '50 Best Summer Reads'
'Fiennes has produced something very fine in this tender but unsentimental memorial to his brother, his home and his family.'
-- Independent on Sunday
'Fiennes has written a small masterpiece, a tribute to the power of place, family and memory.'
-- 50 Best Summer Reads, Daily Telegraph
'Filled with tender detail, humour and wisdom, this is a sensuous tribute to place, memory and the permanence of love' -- Able magazine
'It is a small gem about those important ties that bind.'
-- Daily Express
'Nostalgic, evocative and written with a very English restraint' -- Psychologies magazine
'That gentle soul William Fiennes... has now written The Music Room, a poignant memoir about the loss of a sibling.' -- The Sunday Telegraph
'The Music Room is beautifully written, and by turns lyrical, nostalgic and surprising. It is also unusual. There are many memoirs in the world and there are many accounts of scientific progress but there are precious few books that do both as well as Fiennes's does. Oliver Sacks's work springs to mind, of course, though his books, marvellous as they are, aren't nearly as accomplished as this one. The way that Fiennes deploys and marshals language here really is quite exceptional... This is a brilliant work that combines social observation, personal testimony and medical history in a unique, fresh and utterly captivating way.'
-- Carlo Gébler, Irish Times
'Twin threads intertwine in this memoir of family, home and filial love, which is beautifully written' -- Psychologies magazine
'William Fiennes writes about growing up in an extraordinary English castle along with his brother, Richard, who had epilepsy.' -- The Irish Times
'That gentle soul William Fiennes... has now written The Music Room, a poignant memoir about the loss of a sibling.'See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I recently came across this author at a book review evening with another author (James Rebanks) and looked up his work as I was curious as he had made a couple of references to his... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Jewels
It is a superb writer, However I have not finished reading the Music Room and a wondering why it was called The Music Room!Published 4 months ago by Veronica Atkinson
Read this in a book Club, beautiful descriptive text. I loved it but not an information book on epilepsy necessarily, just one persons reflection on growing up with a sibling with... Read morePublished 7 months ago by jennyb
Fiennes, William. The Music Room
William Fiennes’ account of his childhood in a moated castle is more than a memoir but rather a tribute to the enduring quality of a... Read more
Gave this book as a birthday present and recipient loved it.Published 12 months ago by Deidre A. Webb
A strange book. I had to read it for my Book Club choice. We have not had our discussion yet so I do not know the reaction of others. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Rowan