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The Singing House Paperback – 9 Mar 1995
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Top customer reviews
The lead character is Rose, a young woman from London who knows little about opera at the beginning of the novel but is drawn into the life of Leo, one of the world's greatest singers, thanks to twins Otto and Eva who she meets at the start of the book. With her new friends, Rose leaves the safe boredom of her life in North London (including Martin who she's due to marry) and embarks on a car trip to Europe and its iconic opera houses. Along the way she meets Leo.
Janette Griffiths writes with a beautiful lyricism, wit and an evident love and enthusiasm for her subject. I would also recommend her second novel, The Courtyard in August, set in Paris. It's such a shame that these two novels appear to be the only ones available by Janette Griffiths. I would love to read more of this talented and empathetic writer.
I particularly enjoyed the musical links which appear throughout the Kindle version of this novel and they really enhance the book. The author's website, too, has excellent and enjoyable bonus features on the book's locations. A really good read!
The story follows Rose, a young woman who turns her back on the safe relationship she's currently mired in to pursue a dream of fairytale love with a charismatic opera singer. It is beautifully told and wonderfully paced and full of relatable situations, offbeat humour and unusual settings.
If you're already a fan of classical opera there is plenty here you will find familiar. If it's something you've yet to discover, this is a fantastic introduction to what you've been missing and you'll find a warm welcome within it's pages to what is essentially a magical world brimming with big voices and even bigger characters.
As an added bonus, this new Kindle version also features a soundtrack (yes, a soundtrack!), with links to online performances of many of the timeless works mentioned in the story, as well as a dedicated website full of background information and photos. These interactive elements are great fun and add hugely to the book's already high appeal.
In short, this is one exceptionally good show you can't afford to miss. It's a fresh take on the romance genre that will have your heart singing as powerfully as the music it describes.
So grab your ticket now - the front row is waiting for you...
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Griffith’s characters are certainly as lush and complex as any the great operatic composers created. Front and center is Rose Lorenzo, a 39-year-old spinster who’s about to wed the suitable man her family and friends have convinced her to accept. But on the eve of her marriage, an eccentric stranger pushes a ticket to Tristan and Isolde into her hand. She is unexpectedly overwhelmed by the grand passion of the music and the performance which triggers a hunger from her eccentric childhood. Rose cancels her wedding!
This event turns her life upside down, as it can and often does in opera. Forced to move out of her old flat, she takes a drafty room in the home of two eccentric middle-aged twins, Otto and Eva, and recognizes Otto as the one who provided the life-changing ticket. Rose also meets Leo dalla Vigna, a celebrated baritone who has been cajoled into giving a talk to a gathering of aging opera aficionados. The evening is a disaster for everyone except Rose who is captivated by the voice, by the life, by the man. Later she learns that he is married, mired in a complex history with his unstable wife and facing a major career decision. But before that reality can sink in she agrees to drive Otto and Eva through Europe, tagging along as they attend performances in all the great opera houses. Her decidedly odd traveling companions deliver raw doses of reality, zaniness, and 30 years of opera-going experience in equal measure. And of course Leo re-appears—both on and off stage.
As readers, we presume to know something about love in all its many forms, but this novel—like opera--is also about grand passion. Rose wants to believe both are possible. And so we are drawn to her quest, her love of Leo and the chances she is willing to take. In the process we get to savor the absurd and wonderful world of opera, as well.
Griffiths provides authentic, first hand insights into that world, both historic and contemporary. Like Rose, we learn details of early composers like Verdi, so beloved that as he lay dying the citizens of Milan piled straw on the cobblestones outside his house so he wouldn’t be disturbed by passing horses and carriages. And as the modern day plot unfolds, we’re given glimpses of the wrangling that goes on between cajoling agents and resistant directors, overhear a soloist vomit with pre-performance jitters, and join Otto, Eva and Rose as they thread their way through the backstage maze after the curtain goes down in hopes of a moment with the greats. Griffiths knows this operatic world intimately.
And now there’s a bonus! The technological links of this new Kindle edition are a dream. Simply click on a hyperlink and you can hear Wagner’s Wotan singing a farewell to his now-mortal daughter or any of the other arias, choruses, and overtures that so captivated Rose. Check out the author’s website, too, for excellent bonus features. I loved it all!
Rose is our heroine, a young woman from London who, at the beginning of the novel knows very little about opera. Then she meets eccentric twins Otto and Eva. Before long she is drawn into their world.
With her new friends, Rose leaves her safe but predictable life in North London, including her fiancé Martin who she's due to marry, and embarks on a car trip to Europe and its iconic opera houses. Along the way she meets the charismatic Leo, one of the world's greatest singers.
Janette Griffiths – clearly someone with a great love, knowledge and enthusiasm for opera – writes with a beautiful lyricism and wit that draws you into this great love story with a beautiful European backdrop.
I would also recommend her second novel, The Courtyard in August, set in Paris. It's such a shame that these two novels appear to be the only ones available by Janette Griffiths. I would love to read more of this talented and empathetic writer.