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Grace Notes

Maclaverty, Bernard

763 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 022404429X / ISBN 13: 9780224044295
Published by Random House UK 1997-11-08, US, 1997
Condition: Very Good Hardcover
From Monroe Street Books (Middlebury, VT, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

277 pages. SIGNED BY AUTHOR on title page. Faint foxing to top edge, otherwise a clean, tight copy. Record # 464751. Bookseller Inventory # 464751

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Grace Notes

Publisher: Random House UK 1997-11-08, US

Publication Date: 1997

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Very Good

Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

Returning to Belfast after a long absence, to attend her father's funeral, Catherine McKenna - a young composer - remembers exactly why she left; the claustrophobic intimacies of the Catholic enclave, her fastidious, nagging mother, and the pervading tensions of a city at war with itself. She remembers a more innocent time, when the Loyalists' Lambeg drums sounded mysterious and exciting; she remembers her shattered relationship with the drunken, violent Dave; she remembers the child she had with him, waiting back in Glasgow. A novel about coming to terms with the past, and the healing power of music, GRACE NOTES is a master story-teller's triumphant return to the long form: a powerful lyrical novel of great distinction.

Review:

Composer Catherine McKenna has more of a gift for music than happiness, but she has long been driven beyond harmonies (musical and personal) that her Belfast family can understand. Bernard MacLaverty renders both sides of the equation: Catherine's feminist and aesthetic striving and her mother's more traditional grasp; it's hard not to sympathize with Mrs. McKenna's impatient rejoinder, "You don't cope with music, you listen to it."

Grace Notes, MacLaverty's first novel since Cal, is as much about Irish identity--and possibility--as it is about art. Catherine's newest piece, a mass, includes the huge drums Protestants play in parades. "It was a scary sound--like thunder. Like the town was under a canopy of dark noise." Though her fellow Catholics see the drums as instruments of threat, Catherine is determined to integrate them into her composition.

Her return to Belfast for her father's funeral brings back several ghosts, among them an influential professor who spoke of grace notes--"the notes between the notes." This novel is full of such instances, wry snatches of conversation and unforgettable observations: the new Chinese restaurant that has had to offer chips to stay in business, or the pub that's "on a slight hill. When dogs pissed at the door the dark lines ran diagonally to the gutter." These transcend the occasional passage in which MacLaverty tries too hard to see into the life and rhythms of a female artist. The final section, however, a live radio concert of Catherine's piece, is a triumph for both woman composer and male author.

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