Lively doings…

A new book by Emma Donoghue is always a treat – she writes short stories and novels  like Astray and Room, often based on the snippets of true tales she gleans from newspaper files and other antique ephemera. One of the most interesting  things is how she explains very clearly at the end of each book what her sources are and what she has simply imagined to fill the gaps in the historical record – and why she has created the story the way she has.
Frog Music is a great read inspired by a mysterious murder that took place in San Francisco in 1876, just when a stifling heat wave and smallpox epidemic were creating distress and death. Deep in the streets of Chinatown live three former stars of the Parisian circus: Blanche, now an exotic dancer at the House of Mirrors, her lover Arthur and his companion Ernest. When an eccentric outsider joins their little circle, secrets unravel, changing everything – and leaving one of them dead.
Donoghue spins the popular music-hall songs of the day, the struggling lives of those in the louche demi-monde and the volatile politics of early San Francisco into a heady, believable and entertaining tale – you come away with many questions about what really happened despite Donoghue’s clever suggestions. Unusual and intriguing.

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