Monday, 16 May 2011

Review of The Devil's Music by Jane Rusbridge

I loved the theme of knots in The Devil's Music by Jane Rusbridge. The novel begins with a glossary of knots, which are carefully threaded throughout the novel to reflect what is happening in each chapter. 

The storytelling is evocative and beautiful, heart wrenching and full of truth as Jane Rusbrige delicately unravels the history of one family, where each member has tied themselves in knots to protect each other from pain, invariably causing mental anguish, especially for Andy.
  
When Andy was a little boy playing happily on the beach he was given responsibility for looking after his baby sister, Jelly. 

As he was a child he only has a child's perspective of the events that followed, events that coloured the rest of his life, driving him to get as far away from his family and the memories of that day as possible.
  
Then Andy's father has a stroke and he is called home by his remaining sister, Susie. He decides to stay at the The Siding, the family holiday home on the beach, a place he hasn't been near in 30 years. 

As the first meeting with Susie progresses, Andy becomes stressed and starts to fiddle with the knot on his rucksack, as he does so he contemplates working a multi-stranded Button Knot 'the knot that sailors used to prevent unreeving; a knot that will never be undone'. 
  
This sets the tone of the novel. 

As Andy retreats into thinking about knots to give himself a sense of control during difficult conversations and memories, he unravels the knots of misunderstanding that have been woven into his interpretation of events, revealing the painful complexity of his family's secrets, secrets that will change the course of his life once again. 

The Devil's Music by Jane Rusbridge is a masterclass in the show don't tell school of writing. Absolutely wonderful.

Publisher: Bloomsbury

I bought my copy from Waterstones Nottingham.

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