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Ghost Variations

(2016)
A novel by

 
The strangest detective story in the history of music - inspired by a true incident.

A world spiralling towards war. A composer descending into madness. And a devoted woman struggling to keep her faith in art and love against all the odds.

1933. Dabbling in the fashionable "Glass Game" - a Ouija board - the famous Hungarian violinist Jelly d'Aranyi, one-time muse to composers such as Bartok, Ravel and Elgar, encounters a startling dilemma. A message arrives ostensibly from the spirit of the composer Robert Schumann, begging her to find and perform his long-suppressed violin concerto.

She tries to ignore it, wanting to concentrate instead on charity concerts. But against the background of the 1930s depression in London and the rise of the Nazis in Germany, a struggle ensues as the "spirit messengers" do not want her to forget.

The concerto turns out to be real, embargoed by Schumann's family for fear that it betrayed his mental disintegration: it was his last full-scale work, written just before he suffered a nervous breakdown after which he spent the rest of his life in a mental hospital. It shares a theme with his Geistervariationen (Ghost Variations) for piano, a melody he believed had been dictated to him by the spirits of composers beyond the grave.

As rumours of its existence spread from London to Berlin, where the manuscript is held, Jelly embarks on an increasingly complex quest to find the concerto. When the Third Reich's administration decides to unearth the work for reasons of its own, a race to perform it begins.

Though aided and abetted by a team of larger-than-life personalities - including her sister Adila Fachiri, the pianist Myra Hess, and a young music publisher who falls in love with her - Jelly finds herself confronting forces that threaten her own state of mind. Saving the concerto comes to mean saving herself.

In the ensuing psychodrama, the heroine, the concerto and the pre-war world stand on the brink, reaching together for one more chance of glory.

REVIEWS OF GHOST VARIATIONS:

The Jewish Chronicle
"Schumann's lost concerto and a virtuoso femme fatale keep you gripped and guessing in Ghost Variations. Set in 1930s London, this musical mystery by Jessica Duchen strikes a hot-blooded tune with grace notes from beyond the grave. The story centres on Jelly d'Aranyi, Hungarian, part-Jewish violinist and siren muse of Bartok, Ravel and Elgar."

The Daily Mail - John Suchet's Best Read of the Year, 2016
"A thrilling read set in Thirties London and Germany. It's the true story of Robert Schumann's lost violin concerto, and the race between a Hungarian violinist and the Third Reich to find and perform the work."

 
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Used availability for Jessica Duchen's Ghost Variations


See all available used copies of this book at Abebooks UK or Abebooks US
 

Paperback Editions

September 2016 : UK Paperback
thumbTitle: Ghost Variations: The Strangest Detective Story in the History of Music
Author(s): Jessica Duchen
ISBN: 1-78352-982-2 / 978-1-78352-982-7 (UK edition)
Publisher: Unbound Digital
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

Kindle Editions

September 2016 : USA, Canada, UK Kindle edition
thumbTitle: Ghost Variations: The Strangest Detective Story In Music
Author(s): Jessica Duchen
Publisher: Unbound
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


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