website statistics Strange Music - PDF Books Online
Hot Best Seller

Strange Music

Availability: Ready to download

Richly complex, Strange Music recreates the lives of three women — the poet Elizabeth Barrett in England, and in Jamaica on the Barrett estate, there is Kaydia, a maidservant and Sheba, an indentured labourer. All three women struggle to escape a tragic but ever-present past. From the Hardcover edition.


Compare

Richly complex, Strange Music recreates the lives of three women — the poet Elizabeth Barrett in England, and in Jamaica on the Barrett estate, there is Kaydia, a maidservant and Sheba, an indentured labourer. All three women struggle to escape a tragic but ever-present past. From the Hardcover edition.

51 review for Strange Music

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    4.5 stars A bit of background helps with this novel. It is a historical novel set in 1837 to 1840 and moving between England and Jamaica. It is the story of three women. One of these is the poet Elizabeth Barrett. Her family made all their wealth from sugar plantations and the ownership of slaves and had lost a good deal of money following the abolition of slavery in the Empire in 1833. Barrett herself was a confirmed abolitionist, which led to strains with her family, especially her dictatorial 4.5 stars A bit of background helps with this novel. It is a historical novel set in 1837 to 1840 and moving between England and Jamaica. It is the story of three women. One of these is the poet Elizabeth Barrett. Her family made all their wealth from sugar plantations and the ownership of slaves and had lost a good deal of money following the abolition of slavery in the Empire in 1833. Barrett herself was a confirmed abolitionist, which led to strains with her family, especially her dictatorial father who eventually disinherited her. Another of the strands involves Sheba, a black plantation worker whose lover is murdered by and overseer; she is raped by an overseer and is pregnant as a result. Kaydia is a maid at the Cinnamon Hill estate owned by the Barrett’s. She is trying to protect her daughter Mary Ann from the predatory attentions of Elizabeth’s Brother Sam. Years of rum and debauchery are catching up with Sam and he is slowly dying. Fish’s fascination with Elizabeth Barrett is an interesting one. She was born in England to Caribbean parents and adopted. When, years later she sought her biological parents, she found her father in Jamaica, living in a house previously owned by the Barretts and still containing their possessions and papers. The starting point and pivot of the novel is Barrett’s poem “The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point”. The poem is told from the point of view of a plantation slave who is raped by plantation overseers. She gives birth to a child who reminds the mother of the men who raped her and she kills the child. There have been a number of negative reviews of the novel (a number of them on this site). This negativity seems to stem from difficulties reading/understanding the novel. It is true that the author does demand some alertness and thought from the readers. The chapters which move between the three main characters are not always time consecutive. Two of the characters use dialect and concentration is required to follow the narrative. This isn’t a reason for criticism, it means the reader has to concentrate and think; no bad thing. This is a novel which does examine black women’s experiences of slavery and Fish’s second starting point for the novel is another poem; Easton Lee’s “Strategy” where an older slave woman advises a young female slave to have a child with a white man as a means of obtaining power and security. Each of the women in the novel are trapped in a different way. Barrett is suffering from ill-health and suffering more from the attentions of her doctors, whose idea of medicinal treatment seems more like refined torture and she is banned from writing poetry (versifying) because it is bad for her and stirs the emotions too much. She is also trapped by her tyrannical father. Sheba has lost her lover Isaac and is trapped in the plantation system and her pregnancy means difficult times are ahead. Kaydia desperately tries (and fails) to protect her daughter from Sam Barrett and goes as far as to offer herself as a substitute; by the time of Sam’s death she is pregnant with his child. The other men in her life inevitably blame her rather than Sam or the system of oppression they are trapped in. As you may have guessed the novel of wreathed in tragedy and despair and paints a powerful picture of the life of the three women. Sam, the brutal manager and philanderer, behaves impeccably when he is back in England. Barrett is horrified as she begins to understand how the men in her family behave in Jamaica and struggles to fit this into her world view. This is a really powerful and hard hitting novel about slavery and its effects, illustrating how the pernicious effects it had did not just end with its abolition. There is a deep tragedy and poetry in the writing which rewards those prepared to persevere.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Martin Boyle

    I was a bit ambivalent about this book - it's been on my bookshelf for ages and I've always been a bit uncertain about picking it up for two reasons. First, I do not really relate to the style of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, one of the three voices in the novel. And second, I do struggle with reading dialects and that of the other two (female) voices are particularly rich and generally unfamiliar to me. (I'm still mystified by some of the words!) Now that's out of the way! Within this what was unpr I was a bit ambivalent about this book - it's been on my bookshelf for ages and I've always been a bit uncertain about picking it up for two reasons. First, I do not really relate to the style of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, one of the three voices in the novel. And second, I do struggle with reading dialects and that of the other two (female) voices are particularly rich and generally unfamiliar to me. (I'm still mystified by some of the words!) Now that's out of the way! Within this what was unpromising ground for me, I engaged in a novel that looked at sugar plantation life in the West Indies. The cruel and casual attitudes in Jamaica contrasted starkly with the sweet innocence of a cosseted and easy life in England and and in a family that directly benefited from slave ownership. The brutality of the plantation managers and the suffering of the workers in an ambivalent post-slavery environment, especially contrasted with the blind-eye mentality in the society that benefits most are shocking in being quite so intimate and visual: these are stark reminders of the degradation of colonial society. I coped with my two uncertainties (although I now harbour an ever stronger impatience for Elizabeth Barrett Browning!) and came away with an increased feeling of shame for our colonial history. A powerful story, if not quite accessibly told!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    Too obscure. Between the slave dialects, the allusive writing and the historical setting with no background, I spent more time on Google trying to find something out about Barrett Browning's early years and the history of post-slavery Jamaica than I did reading the book. Not to mention that the England scenes were rather tedious, and there wasn't any pay off. Too obscure. Between the slave dialects, the allusive writing and the historical setting with no background, I spent more time on Google trying to find something out about Barrett Browning's early years and the history of post-slavery Jamaica than I did reading the book. Not to mention that the England scenes were rather tedious, and there wasn't any pay off.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Findley

    I had a hard time getting through this book, mostly because all the terrible things that happen to women happen to the characters in this book, and also because I never quite got used to the Jamaican dialect (but that's on me). Fish writes a lot of beautiful, affecting sentences, but somehow they never gelled into either a solid story or a vibrant mood piece for me. I had a hard time getting through this book, mostly because all the terrible things that happen to women happen to the characters in this book, and also because I never quite got used to the Jamaican dialect (but that's on me). Fish writes a lot of beautiful, affecting sentences, but somehow they never gelled into either a solid story or a vibrant mood piece for me.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    Recoomended by my professor as the subject of my thesis paper. Had a heading reading through those dialects. The third time reading turned out to be really enjoyable, though. A exquisite mix of multiple modernist narratology techinuqes. Reaally fancy the narrtive line of Sheba. Quite expressive and full of emotion. As if saw her crying for her desceased lover in the sugarcane field myself.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Yenney

    Can't deny there's wonderful sentiments and poetic passages; just out of the three stories on three different heroines, the longest one is a little thin, and the other two are written in localized English of Jamaica, and that can pose some difficulty for a non-native speaker like me to enjoy. Can't deny there's wonderful sentiments and poetic passages; just out of the three stories on three different heroines, the longest one is a little thin, and the other two are written in localized English of Jamaica, and that can pose some difficulty for a non-native speaker like me to enjoy.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    A very interesting book interweaving Elizabeth Barrett Browning's life with that of slaves on her family's estate. It was fascinating but I kept expecting Elizabeth to meet Robert Browning and it never happened! I'll just have to go and read a biography I think. A very interesting book interweaving Elizabeth Barrett Browning's life with that of slaves on her family's estate. It was fascinating but I kept expecting Elizabeth to meet Robert Browning and it never happened! I'll just have to go and read a biography I think.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kerry O'Connor

    A poetic novel, beautifully written in an original narrative style, driven by emotion rather than plot.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    affected.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    09 short list-orange prize

  11. 4 out of 5

    Wundermädchen

    Artistic idea of a book that unfortunately lacks reading pleasure and flow in some parts (and that not only because of the sometimes inconsistent Jamaican Patois).

  12. 4 out of 5

    Julie

  13. 5 out of 5

    Gegi

  14. 5 out of 5

    Petra

  15. 4 out of 5

    Youlie

  16. 4 out of 5

    Francesca

  17. 4 out of 5

    Eve

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

  19. 5 out of 5

    Leen Badran

  20. 5 out of 5

    Eleni Charalambous

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alison

  22. 5 out of 5

    selma

  23. 4 out of 5

    Audrey De Landtsheer

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nat3107

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jael

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jarryd La Kay

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  28. 4 out of 5

    Emma Campbell

  29. 4 out of 5

    Terri

  30. 5 out of 5

    Madeleine

  31. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

  32. 4 out of 5

    Julie Wake

  33. 5 out of 5

    Kiera

  34. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Murray

  35. 5 out of 5

    Buried In Print

  36. 5 out of 5

    Misha

  37. 5 out of 5

    Fiona Hocking

  38. 5 out of 5

    Tea Jovanović

  39. 5 out of 5

    Emilie

  40. 5 out of 5

    Emma Campbell

  41. 4 out of 5

    Lynsey Kyte

  42. 5 out of 5

    Jo

  43. 5 out of 5

    Humblebee

  44. 5 out of 5

    Emma

  45. 5 out of 5

    Beverly

  46. 5 out of 5

    Baileys Prize

  47. 4 out of 5

    Susan

  48. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

  49. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

  50. 5 out of 5

    Robin♡

  51. 4 out of 5

    Nianne

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...