The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf
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The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  125 ratings  ·  22 reviews
A young woman in flight from her past, and an old woman whose secrets are contained in the grave--with this configuration, Davis begins a novel of true bravura about opera, adultery, and murder.
Paperback, 416 pages
Published September 5th 2003 by Back Bay Books (first published 1993)
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I'm not going to lie - I had shelved this book so many times at Half Price, and each and every time I saw the title I giggled. The words "trod" and "loaf" are possibly the two funniest words in the English language and the mere site of the cover regularly reduced me to immaturity. Second admission: I sometimes kept a copy of the book on the shelf longer than I should have because I enjoyed reading the spine that much.

With those admissions aside, the story itself was actually not at all what I ex...more
Dec 29, 2010 Rae rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
I loved this book, although it won't appeal to everyone. The narrative is rich and layered (and fairly slow-moving until towards the end), and it somehow manages to tell the entire life story of Helle Ten Brix, a renowned and eccentric Danish opera composer. The story is told through a musically adept American waitress and close friend of Helle, who manages to keep the narrative moving by focusing on Helle's unfinished last opera, /The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf/. This last opera is based on Helle'...more
The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf is actually Hans C Andersen tale - a rather nasty one at that. The book builds on this tale and weaves it into a story about opera, Denmark and two women, one old and dying and the other a waitress in a coffee shop. Helle is from Denmark and has composed many operas, but hasn't finished the last one (based on the Girl Who Trod) when she dies. Her life, from the early 20th century Denmark to the present time is a panoramic history. Davis obviously knows her opera, and...more
Rare book I didn't finish after starting it. Interesting concept, but an over-complex execution. Maybe an opera lover would find it more enjoyable. This book is basically a personal history through examination of the inspiration for the main themes in an imaginary opera. I was not exactly dying to hear what real life event was the inspiration for an opera that we know nothing about at the beginning of the book.
There have been a some other books read in my household since last summer, of course. I'll mention a few here in the next day or two, though there are probably others I've already forgotten.

One that I was reading through the crisis moments was Kathryn Davis' The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf. It concerns the life of a proto-feminist opera composer in her last few years, as spent in a New England town in the company of a runaway Julliard prodigy and her twin daughters. The narrative of the relationship...more
Aug 23, 2007 Edan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Kathryn Davis fans; opera lovers; wordsmiths.
This book was exhilirating and difficult. The narrative moves through various storylines/eras and operas, building information slowly, often favoring deliciously layered and confusing paragraphs over straightforward scene-making. I loved the feeling of not understanding how in the hell Davis put this story together. I was at her mercy, and I'll admit, sometimes I wasn't exactly clear how I got somewhere. Did it matter? I'm not sure.

This book also includes some terrific words, from "eidolon" ("An...more
The title caught my eye in a bookstore long ago and it tugged at me to buy it the next time I saw it. I don't think I had any idea what it was about, but I'm glad I picked it up. Love the writing about music and opera.
Doesn't seem particularly didactic to me. Not that Murdoch really is, but certainly more so than Davis. Fluid with time, richly adorned like a theater set (and none of that modern minimalist aesthetic either), a symbol-laden tragedy whose narrator (heroine) doesn't think very highly of either symbols or tragedies. I like it, but it also irritates me that the lesbian characters are unstable and melodramatic eccentrics. It's not like the hets are angels, either, but still.

It says everything ab...more
Catherine Siemann
Fascinating story of a Danish feminist opera composer and her idiosyncratic, often fairy-tale like oeuvre. Scenes in Copenhagen made me especially happy as I could picture them from a long-ago visit. Flashbacks to her past were more compelling than the present-day first-person narration by her younger American friend (a Julliard-trained musician herself who is waiting tables in a diner, and later trying to complete Helle's final opera as requested in her will). A number of reviewers here found i...more
Fantastic and gripping despite being in the first person(a personal dislike of mine). The use of musical terminology never feels clumsy or tiresome, though the bits about tattooing seem a bit off, if anything. She makes opera really interesting, I found myself really wishing that Helle Ten Brix's operas were real so that I could rush out and find copies of them. Instead I have the vain hope that I can find some like it, any ideas? Was sad to see this one end but am happy knowing that we have a c...more
The unusual title made me pluck it off the shelf & the hypnotic prose has already sucked me in.

The deftly woven tales of Frances Thorn, Julliard-educated waitress, and Helle Ten Brix, eccentric Danish composer, kept me reading, as did the unexpectedly articulate and resonant descriptions in the narrator's prose. I found it startling that though Helle and Frances seem to know better than to trust myth, they mythologize their lives into something of operatic beauty.
Robin Berry
Oy--this book wore me out. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone other than an opera lover or composer, and at that I found myself skipping pages at a time because her descriptions were so long and disorganized, obscure and fairy tale like (which is the point, I guess). I felt like stopping many times but am glad I finished it.
For some reason this novel didn't work for me. Perhaps if I were more musically inclined, I would have liked it better. As it was, I had a hard time feeling anything for the characters or investing myself in the plot or the outcome. Given the basic plot, I thought I would enjoy the book, and was disappointed.
The narrative focus is on a fictional Danish woman composer of operas (1897-1963 I think?), which in itself is interesting. The book title is the name of her final (unfinished) work.
John Pitts
Totally unreadable. Boooooooooooo.

A good friend bet me dinner at any restaurant in D.C. that I could not finish this book. I lost.
Kim Stewart
Please see my review here.
Siobhan Burns
very odd and beautiful, with an unusual addition of fairy tales and fables. it lost me at the end, however.
I couldn't get through it! :-(
The Fairy Godmother
Based on The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf.
Opera trivia.
Sep 30, 2007 michelle added it
Shelves: 2006
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Kathryn Davis is an award-winning American novelist.

Davis has taught at Skidmore College, and is now senior fiction writer in the Writing Program in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

She is a recipient of the Kafka Prize, the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1999, a 2000 Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Lannan Literary Award for Fiction...more
More about Kathryn Davis...
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