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Distant Music

Langley, Lee

Published by Milkweed Editions, Minneapolis, MN, U.S.A., 2003
ISBN 10: 1571310401 / ISBN 13: 9781571310408
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About the Book

Bibliographic Details

Title: Distant Music

Publisher: Milkweed Editions, Minneapolis, MN, U.S.A.

Publication Date: 2003

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition: As New

Dust Jacket Condition: As New

Edition: First Edition.


AS NEW/AS NEW copy protected by Archival Brodart cover. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 000515

About this title:

Book ratings provided by Goodreads:
3.41 avg rating
(46 ratings)

Synopsis: Award winning novelist Lee Langley s evocative examination of Jewish heritage re-creates the same heroine Esperanza, and her lover Emmanuel through the ages. The pair take on new roles in each era, intriguing and enlightening readers with the Jewish perspective on significant moments in European history."

Review: Traversing time and geography, Lee Langley's original and life-affirming novel Distant Music elegantly weaves together four independent stories, each unveiling the common themes of love, loss and the irrevocable progress of time.

Beginning on the Portuguese island of Madeira in 1429 and culminating in London in 2000, the four tales introduce us to the recurring characters of Esperanca and Emmanuel whose love is continually thwarted by social and religious divides. Esperanca is a Portuguese Catholic, Emmanuel a Jew, and their first meeting in Madeira in the 15th Century sees Esperanca as a poor, illiterate peasant girl, captivated by a young, mysterious Jew who arrives on a boat from Portugal and teaches her to read Hebrew. The twin themes of words and learning provide the glue that binds together their different meetings throughout the novel. The learning of new words acts as a metaphor for self-discovery, adolescence and first love, but also as a means of recording scientific discovery and exploration. The lovers are cast together and then torn apart against a backdrop of Portugal's great maritime empire. An elderly Esperanca encounters Christopher Columbus as he prepares to discover the New World and, in a later incarnation, Emmanuel is an assistant to a map maker whose maps reveal the world's un-navigated waters in the same way as Esperanca's newly-learnt words disclose the unexplored terrain of the soul.

Although there is the suggestion at each new meeting that the lovers have met before, this is not a story about reincarnation. Rather, it is a celebration of the defiant power of love and its ability to overcome displacement and prejudice. From the anti-Semitism experienced by the Jews in Madeira and Portugal in the 15th and 19th centuries to the loneliness or "saudade" of the Portuguese immigrant community in modern-day London, love, although not always able to conquer all, will at least resurface to offer new hope. --Jane Morris

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