Rated of 5
by Elaine Denise J. (Midland, TX)
Atonal As the Music Jessold Composed
Following the dress rehearsal of Jessold's opera Little Musgrave, Charles Jessold, is found shot dead beside a bed in which his soprano wife and her lover lie dead. Jessold's new opera was based on a folk song about a lord who slays his wife and her lover when he returns from the hunt and finds them in bed. Two other love triangles are intertwined within the novel: Carlo Gesualdo is an historical Italian composer who slew his wife in similar circumstances and the legend of King Mark, Tristan, and Isolde.
The story of Jessold's murder/suicide is told by a music critic and Jessold's long-time friend Leslie Shepherd. Sheperd and Jessold have spent time collecting folk songs where Jessold found the tale of Little Musgrave—the topic of his later opera. This is Stace's third novel and involves the atonal discordant music of the beginning of the Twentieth Century.
Too often, I felt that a stronger knowledge of music would have enhanced my appreciation of and understanding of the novel. Stace never made me believe, or feel, that Jessold was a composer of note. The friendship between Jessold and Sheperd seemed tenuous and I had to keep telling myself that they were supposed to have a strong friendship. I did not like any of the characters in this novel. Wesley Stace is a clever, polished writer and many of his sentences are gems. Stace also has a great sense of humor that shines in the writing, so I wish I could give a higher review of this title.