From the prize-winning author of First Light, Chatterton, and Hawksmoor - a dazzlingly inventive and powerfully moving novel about the intricate ties between fathers and sons, between inheritance and culture, and between our understanding of the past and our grasp of the present. In post-World War I London, on the stage of the out-of-the-way Chemical Theatre, Clement Harcombe and his young, motherless son, Timothy, perform acts of spiritual healing, their visionary skills lifting the weight of despair and failure from the shoulders of their small band of followers. For Timothy, a boy with remarkable psychic gifts, it is a thrilling apprenticeship, a wonderful life with an adored father. But in the eyes of the larger world, it is a wayward existence with a suspect parent. And when Timothy is abruptly removed from his father's side, from the familiar twilit world of phantoms and ghosts, and thrust into the simple world of his grandparents' home in the country, he is not too young to feel 'bereft of his past'. Yet nothing can remove him from the realm of his visions. And as he passes from a difficult childhood into a troubled adulthood - his father slipping in and out of his life - it is this other, private world that provides him with his only certainty. In his visions - unanticipated and wholly enveloping - Timothy is drawn into the creations of Charles Dickens and William Blake, Thomas Malory and Daniel Defoe, John Bunyan, Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas Gainsborough and J.M.W. Turner. Accompanied by Merlin or Miss Havisham, William Byrd or William Hogarth, Crusoe's Friday or Wonderland's Alice, Timothy is swept across time and history. And as his mysterious journeys begin to illuminate theideas that have shaped them, Timothy comes to discern the power of the writer over his characters, the composer over what is heard, the painter over what is perceived - learns, finally, to hear the 'English music' his father described to him as a child. It is the workings of the English imagination through the centuries, Timothy's cultural heritage, inside which lies the key to his understanding, and his acceptance, of the often perplexing ideas and emotions that are his singular inheritance from his father. English Music is a tour de force of imagination and evocation - a startling, masterful novel from one of the most exciting writers at work today.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - baswood - LibraryThing
There is something about English Music that stops it from being the great book it wants to be. There are many positives. The story of the life of Timothy Holcomb that binds the book is a good one ... Read full review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - charlie68 - LibraryThing
A main plot woven with fantasy like experiences with English Literature, Music and Art. The main plot is a little thin, but the fantasy adds much needed colour. I found the English music theme tiring by the end. Read full review