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In 1827 Harriet Smithson, a beautiful and talented young Irish actress, makes an unusual decision. Determined to avoid the traditional route to stardom via the manager’s bed, she joins an English company in the bold experiment of taking Shakespeare to Paris.
With the ferment of revolution in the air, the new generation is longing for a novel kind of passionate, spontaneous art. And to Harriet’s astonishment, it is embodied in her---La Belle Irlandaise. In the midst of this frenzy she finds herself pursued by a strange, intense young composer named Hector Berlioz. So begins a painful and profound love affair. She is his muse, his idée fixe, his obsession; and Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, directly inspired by Harriet, will change music forever.
Symphony is an audacious, brilliant, and haunting novel, set against a background of nineteenth-century theatre, Romantic art, music, and revolutionary Europe. But at its heart lies the story of two lives transfigured and destroyed by genius, inspiration, and madness.
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Jude Morgan, who studied writing with Malcolm Bradbury and Angela Carter, lives in Peterborough, England.From Publishers Weekly:
The real-life marriage of Irish actress Harriet Smithson (1800–1854) to composer Hector Berlioz (1803–1869) is the ostensible subject of Morgan's latest (following Indiscretion), but the two don't meet until two thirds of the way into this thickly embellished historical romance. After initial reluctance, the young Harriet, her passion for theatre inflamed by Shakespeare, joins her family's traveling theater company. As drink dissipates her father, weight softens her mother and minimal talent limits her brother Joseph, Harriet takes charge of the family business and appears with theatrical stars of the time. But it's her magnificent interpretation of Ophelia in Paris that brings her a public, including Hector, the son of a successful doctor and a pious mother. Young Hector's path to a musical education is told in parallel to Harriet's youth. After her Ophelia, Harriet turns away Hector's ardent pursuit, but as her theater begins to fail and his musical star begins to rise, she attends a performance of his Symphonie Fantastique, inspired by her. Morgan's modernist style, with frequent shifts in tense and POV, won't be for everyone, but it lets Morgan nicely capture the multiple levels of consciousness a performer juggles on stage (the three minds) and gives the novel real texture. (Dec.)
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Book Description St. Martin's Press, 2007. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0312369514
Book Description St. Martin's Press, 2007. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0312369514
Book Description St. Martin's Press, 2007. Hardcover. Condition: New. First Edition. Ships with Tracking Number! INTERNATIONAL WORLDWIDE Shipping available. Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Seller Inventory # 0312369514n