Cover image for Frog music : a novel
Title:
Frog music : a novel
Title:
Frog music : a novel
Edition:
First Edition
Publisher Info:
New York : Little, Brown and Company, c2014.

New York : Little, Brown and Company, 2014.
Physical Description:
405 pages ; 25 cm.
Abstract:
"Emma Donoghue's explosive new novel, based on an unsolved murder in 1876 San Francisco. Summer of 1876: San Francisco is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heatwave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman called Jenny Bonnet is shot dead. The survivor, her friend Blanche Beunon, is a French burlesque dancer. Over the next three days, she will risk everything to bring Jenny's murderer to justice--if he doesn't track her down first. The story Blanche struggles to piece together is one of free-love bohemians, desperate paupers and arrogant millionaires; of jealous men, icy women and damaged children. It's the secret life of Jenny herself, a notorious character who breaks the law every morning by getting dressed: a charmer as slippery as the frogs she hunts. In thrilling, cinematic style, FROG MUSIC digs up a long-forgotten, never-solved crime. Full of songs that migrated across the world, Emma Donoghue's lyrical tale of love and bloodshed among lowlifes captures the pulse of a boomtown like no other"-- Provided by publisher.

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Summary

Summary

From the author of the worldwide bestseller Room: "Her greatest achievement yet...Emma Donoghue shows more than range with FROG MUSIC--she shows genius." -- Darin Strauss, author of Half a Life

Summer of 1876: San Francisco is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heat wave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman named Jenny Bonnet is shot dead.

The survivor, her friend Blanche Beunon, is a French burlesque dancer. Over the next three days, she will risk everything to bring Jenny's murderer to justice--if he doesn't track her down first. The story Blanche struggles to piece together is one of free-love bohemians, desperate paupers, and arrogant millionaires; of jealous men, icy women, and damaged children. It's the secret life of Jenny herself, a notorious character who breaks the law every morning by getting dressed: a charmer as slippery as the frogs she hunts.

In thrilling, cinematic style, FROG MUSIC digs up a long-forgotten, never-solved crime. Full of songs that migrated across the world, Emma Donoghue's lyrical tale of love and bloodshed among lowlifes captures the pulse of a boomtown like no other.


Author Notes

Emma Donoghue was born on October 24, 1969 in Dublin, Ireland. She received her BA degree from the University College Dublin and PhD in English from University of Cambridge. Her first novel was Stir. Her next novel was Hood which won the 1997 American Library Association's Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Book Award for Literature. Her novel Slammerkin was a finalist in the 2001 Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for Fiction. The Sealed Letter, published in 2008, is a work of historical fiction. This work was the joint winner of the 2009 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction. She continued writing several award winning novels including Room which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in September 2010. Some of her other works include Astray, Three and a Half Deaths, and Frog Music.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Donoghue's first literary crime novel is a departure from her bestselling Room, but it's just as dark and just as gripping as the latter. Based on the circumstances surrounding the grizzly real-life murder of Jenny Bonnet, a law-flouting, pants-wearing frog catcher who lived in San Francisco in the mid-1870s, this investigation into who pulled the trigger is told in episodic flashbacks from the point of view of Blanche Beunon. Blanche is a raunchy, self-absorbed burlesque dancer and French emigre who befriended the alluring Bonnet and was with her on the night she was killed. Also woven into the plot is Blanche's sordid relationship with Albert Deneve, an ex-tightrope walker, and his minion Ernest, who may have had a hand in the murder while swindling Blanche out of house, home, and one-year-old baby. Aside from the obvious whodunit factor, the book is filled with period song lyrics and other historic details, expertly researched and flushed out. The sweltering heat wave and smallpox epidemic that afflicted thousands in 1876, the Sinophobic takedown of Chinese businesses, and the proliferation of baby farms-glorified dumping grounds for unwanted babies-are all integrated into the story of Bonnet's tragic end. Donoghue's signature talent for setting tone and mood elevates the book from common cliffhanger to a true chef d'oeuvre. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Donoghue flawlessly combines literary eloquence and vigorous plotting in her first full-fledged mystery, a work as original and multifaceted as its young murder victim. During the scorching summer of 1876, Jenny Bonnet, an enigmatic cross-dressing bicyclist who traps frogs for San Francisco's restaurants, meets her death in a railroad saloon on the city's outskirts. Exotic dancer Blanche Beunon, a French immigrant living in Chinatown, thinks she knows who shot her friend and why, but has no leverage to prove it and doesn't know if she herself was the intended target. A compulsive pleasure-seeker estranged from her fancy man, Blanche searches desperately for her missing son while pursuing justice for Jenny, but finds her two goals sit in conflict. In language spiced with musical interludes and raunchy French slang, Donoghue brings to teeming life the nasty, naughty side of this ethnically diverse metropolis, with its brothels, gaming halls, smallpox-infested boardinghouses, and rampant child abuse. Most of her seedy, damaged characters really lived, and she not only posits a clever solution to a historical crime that was never adequately solved but also crafts around Blanche and Jenny an engrossing and suspenseful tale about moral growth, unlikely friendship, and breaking free from the past.--Johnson, Sarah Copyright 2014 Booklist


Library Journal Review

Set in 1876 San Francisco, this historical novel by Donoghue is a departure from her last book (Room). Compared to that work, Frog Music feels overstuffed, and the narrative time frame, jumping back and forth as it does, can leave the listener confused. Based on the real-life unsolved murder of Jenny Bonnet, the story has more than enough squalor and moral depredation to go around, as Jenny's friend Blanche Beunon attempts to solve the crime while at the same time straightening out her own life. -verdict While the narration by Khristine Hvam is top-notch, in the end what could have been a fast-paced crime story ends up bogged down in the (albeit interesting) details. ["Readers won't quickly forget this rollicking, fast-paced novel," countered the starred review of the Little, Brown hc, LJ 1/14.]-Wendy -Galgan, St. Francis Coll., Brooklyn (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.