Frances Thorn, a young single mother, inherits an unfinished opera based on the Hans Christian Andersen character ""the girl who trod on a loaf."" By the author of Labrador. 30,000 first printing. $30,000 ad/promo. Tour.
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Davis's second novel is as lyrically intense as Labrador (1988) and is also set in a cold, remote landscape--heightening the operatic passions of this dense, fabulistic invention. A magical evocation of Hawthorne, Dinesen, and Stephen Millhauser, this imaginary biography of a Danish lesbian composer has all the intrigue of a New England gothic romance. Helle Ten Brix--born at the turn of the century and famous for her unusual life and art--ends up living in upstate New York, where she becomes an integral part of the narrator's life. Frances Thorn is a waitress with twin daughters conceived in rape, who was on this account disowned by her wealthy parents. She weaves her own tale of rural adultery into her reconstructed story of Helle, which is based on the old woman's fanciful memory. Though Helle leaves most of her estate to Frances's daughters, she leaves to Frances, a former Juilliard student, her last unfinished opera--``the capstone to a brilliant, if enigmatic, career.'' Like the opera from which the novel takes its title, most of Helle's life and work derives from Scandinavian folk tales. She imagines herself a child of the bogs in Jutland, where she claims to have been abandoned one night by her mother, an unfaithful romantic who died young from TB. When Helle later tries to poison her cruel stepmother, her father kicks her out, and Helle begins her career at the conservatory disguised as a man, supporting herself by teaching piano. As her operas begin to make her famous during the Twenties, she begins an ill-fated romance with an Irish signer, Maeve Merro, who disappears during the Nazi occupation. Eventually, Helle makes her way to upstate New York, and there her life and work find their parallels in Frances's hapless story--as ``the complicated mess of human affairs finally transformed into celestial music.'' Artifice and reality clash, then merge, in this strange and visionary novel. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
In her second novel, Kafka Prize winner Davis ( Labrador ) examines the rather labyrinthine friendship of two women, Danish composer Helle Ten Brix and 30-ish airport-diner waitress Frances Thorn, whose lives become entangled in upstate New York. The story opens with Helle's death; her will stipulates that most of her estate go to Frances's 10-year-old twin daughters Flo and Ruby, while her unfinished final opera is left to their mother. (The composition is based on a tragic Hans Christian Andersen story from which the novel takes its title.) Flashbacks to turn-of-the-century Denmark and the unhappy Ten Brix family (seen through Helle's not always reliable or truthful eyes) provide an intriguing contrast to the modern American story line, although they can be confusing--as can the abundant musical references for readers who are not experts in the field. Davis is an accomplished but sometimes heavy-handed writer; the book's two final climaxes seem strained and overly dramatic rather than organically derived from the story.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Alfred a Knopf Inc, New York, 1993. Hardcover. Book Condition: Very Fine. Dust Jacket Condition: Very Fine. First Edition - First Printing. First edition, first printing, with "First Edition" stated, as called for. A very fine and unread copy in a very fine dust jacket, now in a clear removable protective cover. SIGNED by the author on the title page. Not inscribed, price clipped, remaindered or otherwise marked. Signed by Author(s). Bookseller Inventory # 010463
Book Description Alfred a Knopf Inc, Westminister, Maryland, U.S.A., 1993. Hard Cover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. First Edition. !New, no remainder marks, no shelf wear, no surprises. Same day shping. Stated First Edition. Includes promo Picture of author. No printing stated nor any sequence numbers !. Bookseller Inventory # Ex369
Book Description Knopf, NY, 1993. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. This is a New and Unread copy of the first edition (1st printing)l. Book. Bookseller Inventory # 039148
Book Description Knopf, 1993. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0679414258
Book Description Knopf, 1993. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110679414258