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4.5 out of 5 stars
36
4.5 out of 5 stars
Sedition
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Price:£2.99


on 16 April 2017
Surprising, sly and delightful. Katie lifts the demure petticoats of the burgeoning Georgian merchant classes and shows grasping ambition, jealousy and bawdiness. Deserves to be a well read as Peter Suskind's Perfume written with a gimlet yet compassionate eye for human foibles and travails
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on 11 March 2014
A very entertaining read, highly original and fantastic descriptions giving depth and atmosphere. However, once the climax (no spoilers) is reached, the repercussions and threads are quickly tied up in the last 10 pages (of 290) and not altogether convincing, giving the impression the writer had run out of steam and just wanted to finish the story and get on with her life.

Also, there is a plot device towards the end, giving accounts of a significant plot incident from the perspective of the two characters involved, which is only used once. Undoubtedly works, but I was left wondering why it was only used once ?

Overall, I'm left with the impression, that this is one or two drafts short of being the final article - or it may be that it has been over-edited ? The rushed ending certainly gives the impression it was cut down to keep it under 300 pages, which is a pity.

Having said all that, thoroughly enjoyable.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 9 March 2014
The Drigg, Frogmorton, Brass and Sawneythorpe parents are determined that their daughters will make good marriages. And in England in 1794 this means that they need to attract those with titles; the families have money, now they want position. Certainly Marianne, Everina, Harriet and Georgiana seem prepared to go along with their Mamma and Papa’s schemes, but Alathea seems to already know what she wants from life. The girls all have their own ideas about love and romance, but what Alathea already knows offers her much more than that.

When the families decide to get one of those newfangled pianofortes and bring the girls out to the world of Society at a concert, they get more than they may have bargained for. Because the pianoforte maker and seller, Cantabile (appropriately enough), seeks his own revenge on them, and is prepared to use the girls’ music teacher to get it. Annie, Cantabile’s daughter, has miseries of her own she would like to get rid of to the universe, but she doesn’t believe she’s worthy of any good in her life. As the day of the concert draws nearer, the reader has no idea what is really about to happen.

This is not the world that Jane Austen writes about; rather this is a world where the senses and emotions are used in very different ways by the characters in this book to get what they want. It’s a tale of earthy characters, of which every one is thrown into circumstances well outside their individual comfort zones. It’s bawdy, but ever so delicate and discreet and never gratuitous. It’s dark, funny, sad and real all at the same time. The reader is left wryly smiling, slightly horrified, somewhat surprised and occasionally shocked. The environment is skilfully drawn, but it is the characters who really make this book. This is a rare novel, one where the author’s skill paints a picture that the reader can view in fine detail, and where a world that has long gone is evoked with complete clarity. Totally recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 26 July 2014
Sedition is a fabulous romp of a novel that reminds me of Sarah Waters' debut, Tipping the Velvet; it's mock-historical, not in the sense that any individual incident is strictly historically inaccurate, but due to the cumulative effect of its plotting, which plays out strikingly modern themes. It's late eighteenth-century London and five young women are seeking a match. Their fathers conspire to educate them on the pianoforte so they can wow society and make wonderful matches. However, the men have more money than sense, and the pianoforte maker, and more specifically, his daughter Annie, has plans of her own. Conversely, the five girls are not innocent victims. While the plot pivots around their virginity, they are far from ignorant or even likeable. Alathea, manipulative and secretive, stands out from the crowd, but does not seem to know what she ultimately hopes to gain. Meeting Annie, however, throws everything into perspective.

The sheer energy of the narrative makes Sedition an enjoyable read, and although there are some very dark moments in the novel, it's not told straight enough for these to be truly disturbing. Katharine Grant tells her story as if she is writing a bawdy ballad or folk-song; it has resonance, and we identify with the characters and want them to succeed (or fail), but the telling does not have enough realism to make us truly suffer with them. It's a strategy that works remarkably well. The initially schematic characterisation of the five girls unfolds into something much more interesting, and Annie is a highlight from the start, suffering over her hare lip but determined to seek her fortune nonetheless. Grant is also clever enough to avoid the pitfalls that dog most historical novels. Partly, as I've suggested, this is because this is a mock-historical, and partly, it's through the skill of the writing, which conjures the atmosphere of Georgian London without getting bogged down in detail, or saying too little. Like Waters, she uses genre to capture the sense of a period; this story would not have worked if it were set in the mid-nineteenth century, just as Waters exploited the crime conventions of that period when she wrote Fingersmith. The other comparison that occurs to me is David Mitchell's fantastic The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet; this is a very different novel, but pulls off the same trick of not letting the author's imagination be confined by the historical setting.

I know little about music, and this book might mean more to someone who is more musical; music is embedded in its metaphors as well as in its plot line. Nevertheless, this was no hindrance to following the story, and the ending seemed both inevitable, and totally fitting. I look forward to reading more from Grant.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 June 2014
This is a wonderfully sly and mischievous book which takes the bare bones of a nineteenth-century novel and gives them an audacious makeover. A group of mercantile families in 1794 London are keen to marry off their five daughters and so decide to have them give a musical concert to put them on public display and catch husbands. But with various plots afoot, the plan goes outrageously wrong...

Grant writes wonderfully but this is a darker, in places, read than some of the reviews indicate. At the same time, she takes the central conceit of nineteenth-century fiction - the marriage of girls - and boldly overturns it. The social and literary commentary is subtle but unmistakably there, and the book is imbued with a spirit of transgression from the background of the French Revolution to the ultimate fate of the girls.

So this book takes its cue more from Les Liaisons Dangeureuses than Jane Austen but with a postmodern consciousness and a deliciously wayward ending: it starts off as a romp but soon develops into something far more boldly and gloriously seditious.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 May 2014
Delightfully amoral, a wicked tale of seduction that channels both Les Liaisons Dangereuses and The Piano.

Several 'new money' families in 1790s London decide to showcase their daughters for the marriage market by purchasing a top-notch pianoforte and training up their girls to perform in a one-off concert for the nobility. Instrument-maker Cantabile is affronted by the idea of untrained and clumsy girls touching his handmade piece of art. He sends Monsiuer Belladroit to the families, ostensibly as their instructor. But really to seduce them all and foil the marriage schemes.

Unexpected turns come from his own daughter, talented musician Annie, born with a disfiguring hare lip, and one of the girls - Alathea, cunning and with scheming plans of her own.

Like Dangerous Liasions, the period and theme of seduction fill the story. It's light in places, dark in others. The girls are well-enough differentiated to be identifiable. Alathea is admirable (and yet pitiable at times, as is Annie, who I wanted to see more of). Alathea drives the plot, and takes it in turns unforeseen.

There are some sex scenes but beautifully written to be completely implied, not explicit whatsoever.

The concert scene itself. So long anticipated. It is a delight. I soooooooo wanted to hear that music. To see those dresses.

Thoroughly enjoyed this, great period feel and hope it gets made into a film - some wonderful parts here for actors. And great humour, with Belladroit eventually having to service several curious teenagers consecutively, will transfer brilliantly to the screen. Indulge yourself.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 14 August 2016
The Drigg, Frogmorton, Brass and Sawneythorpe parents are determined that their daughters will make good marriages. And in England in 1794 this means that they need to attract those with titles; the families have money, now they want position. Certainly Marianne, Everina, Harriet and Georgiana seem prepared to go along with their Mamma and Papa’s schemes, but Alathea seems to already know what she wants from life. The girls all have their own ideas about love and romance, but what Alathea already knows offers her much more than that.

When the families decide to get one of those newfangled pianofortes and bring the girls out to the world of Society at a concert, they get more than they may have bargained for. Because the pianoforte maker and seller, Cantabile (appropriately enough), seeks his own revenge on them, and is prepared to use the girls’ music teacher to get it. Annie, Cantabile’s daughter, has miseries of her own she would like to get rid of to the universe, but she doesn’t believe she’s worthy of any good in her life. As the day of the concert draws nearer, the reader has no idea what is really about to happen.

This is not the world that Jane Austen writes about; rather this is a world where the senses and emotions are used in very different ways by the characters in this book to get what they want. It’s a tale of earthy characters, of which every one is thrown into circumstances well outside their individual comfort zones. It’s bawdy, but ever so delicate and discreet and never gratuitous. It’s dark, funny, sad and real all at the same time. The reader is left wryly smiling, slightly horrified, somewhat surprised and occasionally shocked. The environment is skilfully drawn, but it is the characters who really make this book. This is a rare novel, one where the author’s skill paints a picture that the reader can view in fine detail, and where a world that has long gone is evoked with complete clarity. Totally recommended.
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on 20 March 2014
...and that is saying something. I literally have no other titles in mind that I could compare Sedition to - it was THAT original. It is an unsettling story about sex, money, status, and how mixing all three can have extremely violent results. BUT, it's unsettling in that exciting way that had me rushing through the book to find out how everything set in motion would affect the lives of the main characters.

Strangely enough, it is music of all things that ties all their lives together. Not just learning to play the pianoforte, as the book's description states, but the passions that music inspires and creates. In addition to the multi-layered plot, the author provides rich detail throughout the entire story, making every scene that more delicious and disturbing at the same time.

When you finish reading Sedition, you'll be left wondering if it was ever truly about the pianoforte. ;)
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 22 January 2014
Set in London in 1794, whilst the French revolution is on-going, four nouveaux rich fathers hatch a plan to marry their five daughters. In order to impress prospective aristocratic husbands they decide to stage a concert on the new pianoforte, demonstrating the girls' desirability to London's elite through their musical talents. One of the fathers is sent to purchase a piano for all five girls from a piano-maker, Vittorio Cantabile, whose daughter Annie plays like an angel but her services as a teacher are spurned due to her facial disfigurement. Her father is beside himself when Annie brokers the deal for the star piano. The purchaser exclaims that it 'sings like a bird' and 'just the thing for virginal girls'. His latter phrase proved prophetic as the vengeful Cantabile suggests his French friend Monsieur Belladroit teach the daughters, knowing he appreciates beautiful girls. He pays him extra to seduce them before the concert.

Belladroit is a pathological liar both to the girls and their parents in order to fulfil the challenge he has been set. The music lessons become an opportunity to groom the girls once he has told an unscrupulous lie to remove the chaperone the austere and snobbish Mrs Frogmorton. Everina, Marianne, Georgina and Harriet have some problem with their appearances. Alathea, the daughter of widower Sawney Sawneyford is the exception. She is bold and sensual, sexually aware and free-thinking and intelligent. Her father, a pitiful loner, believes he totally owns his daughter, but in reality he owns nothing, apart from diamonds he uses for his own illicit needs. Alathea's later act of rebellion to her father leads to a trauma that shocks him and precipitates the events at the climactic concert.

The parents are driven by the obsession of their marriage arrangements. The girls are well-drawn and their characteristics and nature become clearer as Monsieur Belladroit begins his role-call of seduction and it is not one-way traffic either as they become cliquey, jealous and spiteful as they lose their innocence, with guile and desire taking over. They soon discuss their encounters together and the 'fizziness' they experience with their teacher described by the author adeptly as carnal adroitness without any graphic details. Alathea is something else, making the first moves to an astonished Belladroit who views her with uncertainty. It is Alathea who forms a close relationship with Annie through their love of music, Alathea being an accomplished pianist herself. The concert is carefully arranged by the parents but becomes full of momentous, hilarious surprises when it all backfires.

Sedition is a witty, dark and sophisticated tale full of strong relationships, young female passion and learning experiences, rather than just sex. Music is a powerful theme throughout, as well as the desires of the parents to improve their status and those of their daughters by marrying into nobility and the cultural changes and kudos that would accompany this. Katharine Grant writes fluently and with flowing prose that develops the colourful characters. The plot is somewhat implausible but the writing soon rides that hurdle and turns this into an unforgettable, excellent and entertaining read about sexual politics and all that accompanies it.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 February 2014
London 1794. The foment that seeps across the Channel from Paris is as nothing compared to the upheaval going in within the households around which this story swirls.

The time has come for the five daughters of a group of nouveau riche parents to be married off. The sons of earls are required, at the very least. The fathers hit upon a plan. Their daughters will learn to play a new-fangled musical instrument called the pianoforte and they will put on a concert to impress the aristocracy and lure a husband for each of their girls.

This book is the very definition of the word hubris! It's unusual, lively and peopled with real characters, some of them quite dark. But the very best thing about it is the way it's written. None of this cod, olde-worlde language that gets thrown about far too much in historical fiction these days (viz. Ace, King, Knave). The language in this very engaging adult debut from Katharine Grant treads its own path in a thoroughly convincing way. The only arch elements are the raised eye-brows of the girls' mothers as this book builds to a brilliant crescendo. 4.5*
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