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The Courage Consort: Three Novellas

Faber, Michel Author

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With his elegant prose, distinctive imagination, and deep empathy, the bestselling author of The Crimson Petal and the White once again dazzles us in three novellas. "The Courage Consort" tells of an a capella vocal ensemble sequestered in a Belgian chateau to rehearse a monstrously complicated new piece. But competing artistic temperaments and sexual needs create as much discordance as the avant garde music. In "The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps," a lonely woman joins an archaeological dig at Whitby Abbey and unearths a mystery involving a long-hidden murder. In "The Fahrenheit Twins," strange children, identical in all but gender and left alone at the icy zenith of the world by their anthropologist parents, create their own ritual civilization.

In each of these novellas, Michel Faber creates a unique, self-contained world, where the perennial human drama plays out in all its passion and ambiguity.

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Admirers of Belgian writer Michel Faber's magnificent breakthrough novel, The Crimson Petal and the White, may be surprised by how well his taut but unhurried prose translates to shorter fiction in the three novellas of The Courage Consort. It helps, of course, that the stories--minor marvels of suspenseful pacing and atmosphere--are unified by a large, old-fashioned theme: the loss of innocence (and, in one case, the struggle to preserve it). In the title story, an English vocal ensemble travels to Belgium for a two-week residency at a rural chateau, an opportunity to rehearse a notoriously difficult and possibly pointless new composition. Catherine, the soprano--and the dependent, emotionally fragile wife of the ensemble's director--hears plangent cries from the surrounding woods each night. Like Mrs. Dalloway, Catherine feels herself approaching middle age without having achieved adulthood. If she goes into the woods--facing the ghostly legend of a simple-minded mother and her baby, lost there near the end of World War II--will she find her grown-up self? The second novella, "The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps," traces a paper conservator's nightly unraveling of an 18th century oil merchant's tight-scrolled deathbed confession. And the third, "The Fahreinheit Twins," is one part Angela Carter, one part Jack London: a scary fairy tale translated to a glittering ice-bound wilderness.

Events that would be sensational in the hands of most writers--gruesome nightmares, hauntings, possible murders--are serenely dispatched by Faber, who has bigger emotional game in sight. And while every writer has characteristic tics and favorite phrases, the joy here is in observing Faber's growing mastery, and how few the limits on his talent. --Regina Marler

About the Author:

Michel Faber is the author of The Crimson Petal and the White, Under the Skin, and Some Rain Must Fall. His work has been published in twenty countries and has re-ceived several literary awards. He lives in the Scottish highlands.

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Book Description Harcourt, Orlando, 2004. Softcover. Book Condition: New. Uncorrected Proof. 232 pages. Softcover. New uncorrected proof copy. FICTION. With his elegant prose, distinctive imagination, and deep empathy, Faber dazzles us with these three novellas. The Courage Consort tells of an a capella vocal ensemble sequestered in a Belgian chateau to rehearse a monstrously complicated new piece. But competing artistic temperaments and sexual needs create as much discordance as the avant-garde music. In "The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps," a lonely woman joins an archaeological dig at Whitby Abbey and unearths a mystery involving a long-hidden murder. In "The Farenheit Twins," strange children, identical in all but gender and left alone at the icy zenith of the world by their parents, create their own ritual civilization. (Key Words: Novellas, fiction, literature, Michael Faber, The Courage Consort, The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps, Farenheit Twins, Crimson Petal and the White Under the Skin, Some Rain Must Fall). book. Bookseller Inventory # 15045X1

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Book Description Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.: Harcourt, Orlando, Florida, U.S.A., 2004. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. Book Description: MICHEL FABER is white-hot. His sprawling international bestseller, The Crimson Petal and the White, continues to rack up sales and accolades. The Perennial Canada reissue of his debut novel, Under the Skin, and a short story collection, Some Rain Must Fall, are sure to re-awaken interest in this astonishingly versatile writer who is equally at home in the post-apocalyptic world of the future or the grimy back alleys of nineteenth-century London. The first novella in this omnibus collection, The Courage Consort, takes place in the unlikely world of avant-garde classical music, and tells the story of a numbed woman awakening to the realities of friendship, independence and desire. The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps concerns Sian, who joins an archeological dig at an English abbey. Part thriller, romance, ghost story and meditation on the nature of sincerity, this is a true literary page-turner. The Fahrenheit Twins is Faberís new, never-before-released novella, the haunting, surreal story of two children on the Arctic tundra whose innocence is shattered by the loss of their mother. About the Author Michel Faberís first novel, Under the Skin, was a finalist for Britainís Whitbread Award and nominated for the Dublin IMPAC Award 2002. It has been translated into 17 languages. His acclaimed short story collection, Some Rain Must Fall, won the Scottish Arts Council Award. His most recent novel, The Crimson Petal and the White, was an international bestseller. Born in Holland, brought up in Australia, Michel Faber now lives in the Scottish Highlands. Bookseller Inventory # ABE-842476486

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