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Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer

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One of The Wall Street Journal's Best fiction books of 2011

England, 1923. A gentleman critic named Leslie Shepherd tells the macabre story of a gifted young composer, Charles Jessold. On the eve of his revolutionary new opera's premiere, Jessold murders his wife and her lover, and then commits suicide in a scenario that strangely echoes the plot of his opera---which Shepherd has helped to write. The opera will never be performed.

Shepherd first shares his police testimony, then recalls his relationship with Jessold in his role as critic, biographer, and friend. And with each retelling of the story, significant new details cast light on the identity of the real victim in Jessold's tragedy.

This ambitiously intricate novel is set against a turbulent moment in music history, when atonal sounds first reverberated through the concert halls of Europe, just as the continent readied itself for war. What if Jessold's opera was not only a betrayal of Shepherd, but of England as well?

Wesley Stace has crafted a dazzling story of counter-melodies and counter-narratives that will keep you guessing to the end.

From Publishers Weekly

Dec 06, 2010 – This intellectually provocative novel from Stace (the pseudonym of musician John Wesley Harding) brings to life the English music world of the first half of the 20th century. Early one June morning in 1923, gifted composer Charles Jessold, after the dress rehearsal of his first opera, Little Musgrave, kills his wife and her lover and commits suicide at his London home. The murders echo the plot of Jessold's years-in-the-making opera as well as the life and work of Carlo Gesualdo, a 16th-century Italian composer. Instead of revolutionalizing English music, Little Musgrave is canceled. Wealthy music critic Leslie Shepherd, who considered himself Jessold's mentor, wrote the opera's libretto, but his frustration over Jessold's procrastination and arrogance led to their estrangement. Twenty-two years later, Shepherd reveals startling new details that put a different, more chilling perspective on the tragedy. Stace (Misfortune) succinctly explores obsession and the relationship between art and life in this satisfying historical. Author tour.

Customer Reviews

Captivating puzzle

Can't believe how amazing the back section of the book was. Stace lay the foundations so seamlessly in the beginning that I wasn't even flying into the foreshadowing.

Despite rarely returning to literature (like Stace my two children occupy a great deal of my time), I might have to find the time to revisit at least the early passages to see how this very intricate puzzle fits together.

Can hardly wait for the next book.

Very Disappointing

I did not finish this book as it was too much of a struggle to read. Recommended as a book of the year so a very disappointing experience. I want to be informed or entertained or both and this book did neither...EAF

Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Feb 01, 2011
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Seller: Macmillan / Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC
  • Print Length: 400 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings