Summary and book reviews of The Music Room by William Fiennes

The Music Room

A Memoir

by William Fiennes

The Music Room
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Sep 2009, 224 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2010, 224 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A bittersweet description of an ancient family house in an enchanted setting, and of growing up with a damaged brother.

William Fiennes spent his childhood in a moated castle, the perfect environment for a child with a brimming imagination. It is a house alive with history, beauty, and mystery, but the young boy growing up in it is equally in awe of his brother Richard. Eleven years older and a magnetic presence, Richard suffers from severe epilepsy. His illness influences the rhythms of the family and the house’s internal life, and his story inspires a journey, interwoven with a loving recollection, toward an understanding of the mind.

This is a song of home, of an adored brother and the miracle of consciousness. The chill of dark historical places coexists with the warmth and chatter of the family kitchen; the surrounding landscapes are distinguished by ancient trees, secret haunts, the moat’s depths and temptations. Bursting with tender detail, The Music Room is a sensuous tribute to place, memory, and the permanence of love.

ONE

The school assembly hall was closed for renovations and on Sundays we walked to a church for our weekly service. We spread rumours along pews and daydreamed through sermons until one visiting preacher secured our attention by hoisting a bag onto the pulpit rim – a scuffed black leather bag with accordion pleats at each end, a bag a doctor might take on night visits – and unpacking metal stands and clamps we recognized from science labs, and various jars and packages he ranged along the shelf in front of him. He was in his fifties, dressed in a grey suit and a black shirt with a white dog collar, and he didn't say anything while preparing his equipment, tightening a clamp on a retort stand, fixing a cardboard tube between the jaws.

He struck a match; a fuse caught and sizzled; he shook the match out and stepped back to watch the flame. Then we understood that what he'd clamped to the stand was a firework. The tube flared with a soft, ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The Music Room lacks the gossipy tone prevalent among so many current memoirs; it exposes no family scandal or deep emotional scars, and pushes no political agenda. It is, however, a gentle love-filled memoir which should appeal to many, especially those with an interest in modern castle life!   (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Full Review Members Only (725 words).

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

Interspersed is a precis of the history of research regarding his brother's status epilecticus. An artful memory piece about a unique home life.

Publishers Weekly

The book feels fluffed up at times with asides on the history of epilepsy, but more often than not these serve the greater purpose of evoking a sense of continuity and reflection.

Sunday Times (UK)

Evocative and wistful…glows with the joy of remembrance.

Financial Times

This is a moving book, written with sensitivity. Fiennes writes with great precision and skill; his images stay with you.

The Guardian (UK)

This is no misery memoir...on the contrary, it is a thoughtful and lyrical account of an extraordinary childhood.

New Statesman

Beautifully written…detailed without being overblown, precise without being precious.

The Spectator (UK)

Fiennes has a poet's gift for creating images that are fresh and original...yet so natural as to seem almost inevitable.

The Daily Telegraph (UK)

It is a beautiful and fortifying book, even a great one.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Broughton Castle
The unnamed location of William Fiennes' memoir is Broughton Castle, a medieval manor house near the village of Broughton, two miles southwest of Banbury, in the county of Oxfordshire, England.

The estate is situated at the confluence of three streams, making it an ideal location for a fortified manor house complete with moat. No one is sure when the first building was constructed at the site, but parts of the current structure date to around 1300 CE, when Sir John de Broughton II  began developing it. The property was sold in 1377 to William of Wykeham (Bishop of Winchester; Chancellor of England; founder of both Winchester College and New College, Oxford).

His descendent, Margaret ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Music Room, try these:

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...
  • Book Jacket: When Breath Becomes Air
    When Breath Becomes Air
    by Paul Kalanithi
    When Breath Becomes Air is the autobiography of Paul Kalanithi, written in the time period between ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

Education is the period during which you are being instructed by somebody you do not know, about something you do ...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.