“Home wasn’t a place. Home was music.”
Hartgrove Hall is a house with nine bedrooms, five reception rooms, a suite of attics and half a dozen ramshackle barns.
Reading “The Song of Hartgrove Hall” I knew that I was being introduced to my latest favourite author. Having finished the novel, I will now add everything she has written to my TBR.
A literary historical novel, “The Song of Hartgrove Hall” is written in dual timelines with a single protagonist, Harry Fox-Talbot, a musical composer and conductor and, most importantly, a song collector.
We first meet Harry (or Little Fox) as he is known, in 1946 when he is a very young man. He was too young to have served in the war like his two older brothers. Their ancestral manor house/farm, Hartgrove Hall, was requisitioned by the British Army during the war and they are just reacquainting themselves with its grandeur and its decrepitude. The house is in dire need of a large influx of cash which they do not have.
Edie Rose, a jewish wartime singer comes to stay at Hartgrove Hall and she makes a profound impact on all of the brothers and the very house itself. Partly in tribute to the great house, and partly in honour of Edie, Little Fox composes a symphony called “The Song of Hartgrove Hall”. A song that will help keep the house in the family for the following fifty years.
In the present day timeline we meet up with Fox when he is in his eighties. His beloved wife has recently died and he is grief stricken. He is a self-confessed ‘old fogey’ who lives alone in the vast Hartgrove Hall. When he discovers the musical genius of his five year old grandson, Robin, it proves as a turning-point in his life.
Harry was a character that I’ll remember for quite some time. He was a very ‘real’ man with his own obsessions, guilt, and immense talent. His great love for one woman, his ancestral home, and his music are the driving forces of his life.
A novel that is an homage to music also includes themes of forgiveness, betrayal, family, aging, bereavement, and affinity for place. It is my belief that anyone who enjoys the novels of Kate Morton or Rosamund Pilcher will adore this one. Highly recommended!
This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Plume Books (an imprint of Penguin Random House) via NetGalley.
Publication date: December 29, 2015 Publisher: Plume Books
ISBN: 9780147517593 eBook: 9780698407022 494 pages
Note: This novel was also published under the title: “The Song Collector“
I know I am shamefully late in reading and reviewing this title. To my immense chagrin I realize that the reason I put off reading it for so long was due to its length. With a very large list of review commitments, I find I gravitate towards the shorter length novels. I’ve learned the hard way that a long novel can whiz by if you love it as much as I did this one. Lesson learned! My utmost apologies to the author and the publisher for taking so long…
Natasha Solomons is a screenwriter and novelist. She lives in Dorset with her husband, the award-winning children’s author David Solomons, and their two children. She is the New York Times best-selling author of four novels and her work has been translated into seventeen languages.
If she’s not writing in the studio, she can usually be found playing hide-and-seek in the garden.