Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Gerontius” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  42 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Gerontius is the story of a real voyage in the life of Sir Edward Elgar, the celebrated composer of the quintessentially English tune 'Land of Hope and Glory'. The cruise up the Amazon is a holiday for the disillusioned music-maker. In telling the story of his journey, Hamilton-Paterson explores the waning of creative genius, post-war disenchantment and the effects of the ...more
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published April 1st 1991 by Soho Press
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Gerontius, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Gerontius

I, the Sun by Janet E. MorrisMiss Lizzie by Walter SatterthwaitPeter by Christopher Daniel MechlingLucretia by David KraeThe Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
Biographical Novels
15th out of 19 books — 9 voters
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty  SmithThe Diviners by Libba BrayThe Paris Wife by Paula McLainThe Chaperone by Laura MoriartyBright Young Things by Anna Godbersen
Best 1920s Historical Fiction
89th out of 109 books — 183 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 04, 2014 Eleanor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I am not sure how interesting it would be for someone with no interest in so-called "classical" music, with its references to Elgar's music and that of other composers. But as a study of a man who has almost lost his musical creativity, and has lived through the Great War and seen it shatter his world, it is very moving indeed.

Hamilton-Paterson's writing is beautiful. Here is a description of night falling on the Amazon:

It is the moment between dusk and dark when the forest st
Patrick Gibson
I went on an Elgar jag in college. While my friends were toking and poking to Iron Maiden (or Simon & Garfunkel for the less adventurous), I chose the higher musical road of Elgar’s Cello Concerto. And the adagio from Bruckers 8th (one of the most sensual/sexual pieces ever written). For some reason (probably because the Cello Concerto is so amazing) I got it into my head to collect every Elgar opus number on CD. That would be impossible in the States, but since I was a hop away from Toronto ...more
Mar 26, 2009 Charles rated it really liked it
What a wonderful book this is, generous, thoughtful, unsentimental in its attitude towards creativity and value. It tells the story of a trip to the Amazon made by Elgar when he was 63, and if that puts you off, you'll miss an exceptionally stimulating read. The only reason I haven't give it five stars is that it's not quite as good as the same author's Loving Monsters
Sep 06, 2014 LS rated it it was amazing
I'm reading this now after enjoying the Fernet Branca trilogy so much. Completely different voice in this superb novel of 1923 journey by composer Elgar to Amazon River/Brazil. The descriptions reminded me of Ann Patchett's STATE OF WONDER, but GERONTIUS is more masterful.
Oct 01, 2013 Ian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rather wonderful. Elgar's mysterious and largely undocumented Amazon cruise is a gift for an imaginative writer like Mr Hamilton Paterson and he doesn't mess up the opportunity. There are rich and colourful descriptions of cruise life in the early 1920s and of life in Manaos and Cape Verde. There are also lengthy reflections of a successful composer nearing the end of his life and rather resenting his celebrity status.

It's an absorbing read and recommended for any fans of Mr H-P and for lovers o
Feb 06, 2014 Garreth rated it it was amazing
Impressive, in many ways. The level of knowledge of Elgar is excellent: the journal entries in particular are so characteristic of the way he wrote his letters as is the understanding of Elgar's particular creative process and more generally there's a depth of characterization that's really most convincing. The fleshing out of a plot from a vague and almost unrecorded episode (I'd never heard of this trip to Brazil before coming across this novel) is well conceived. Finally the sheer poetry of ...more
this great fantasy bit at the start about a tiki dwelling at the top of a cliff standing in gumboots with wings of steel feathers neck of tangerine whatever its fantastic then splutters into the amazon and discovery travel & vicarious living travelogue
Tim Atkinson
Jan 28, 2009 Tim Atkinson rated it liked it
Interesting concept - certainly hits the 'prickly' Elgar nail on the head, but inevitably much conjecture. Would an elderly Elgar really travel down a mountain on a sled?
A fictionalized account of a real cruise to the Amazon taken by Sir Edward Elgar when he was 65. Well written and an interesting commentary on genius.
Jun 02, 2013 Philippe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, music, 1860-1918
Marvelous story about the ageing Edward Elgar who's trying to recapture his muse in composing his elusive Third Symphony. The opening chapters of the book are unforgettable.
Ben Roberts
Ben Roberts rated it liked it
Mar 31, 2013
Ray Francis
Ray Francis rated it liked it
Aug 13, 2015
Smallest Forest
Smallest Forest rated it really liked it
Sep 14, 2010
Scoutaccount rated it liked it
Mar 24, 2016
Charlie Bury
Charlie Bury rated it it was amazing
Oct 02, 2016
Loppy rated it liked it
Jan 22, 2016
Karen rated it liked it
Aug 29, 2013
John rated it it was amazing
Mar 17, 2013
Wendy rated it it was amazing
Dec 30, 2013
Julia Scarf
Julia Scarf rated it it was amazing
Apr 15, 2015
Snorre D.
Snorre D. rated it really liked it
May 21, 2016
Jackie York
Jackie York rated it liked it
Nov 06, 2011
Angelo rated it it was amazing
Feb 05, 2014
Julianne rated it really liked it
Apr 21, 2008
John Gibbs
John Gibbs rated it liked it
Aug 26, 2016
Nicholas rated it it was amazing
Aug 07, 2009
Tracey rated it it was amazing
Feb 22, 2016
Michael Wormald
Michael Wormald rated it liked it
May 19, 2015
Cooch rated it really liked it
Jan 03, 2013
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
James Hamilton-Paterson's work has been translated into many languages. He is a highly acclaimed author of non-fiction books, including Seven-Tenths, Three Miles Down and Playing with Water, as well as America's Boy, a study of Ferdinand Marcos and the Philippines. Gerontius, his first novel, won the Whitbread Award, while his most recent, Loving Monsters (2001), was praised by the Sunday ...more
More about James Hamilton-Paterson...

Share This Book