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The Courage Consort

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  1,184 ratings  ·  117 reviews
With his elegant prose, distinctive imagination, and deep empathy, the bestselling author of The Crimson Petal and the White once again dazzles us in three novellas. "The Courage Consort" tells of an a capella vocal ensemble sequestered in a Belgian chateau to rehearse a monstrously complicated new piece. But competing artistic temperaments and sexual needs create as much
Paperback, 240 pages
Published November 7th 2005 by Mariner Books (first published 2002)
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Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a volume of three short stories that make you muse on many things. I especially enjoyed how Faber used element of Gothic Fiction in the stories.

Of the three stories the one I enjoyed the most was "The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps".

Each of these stories also has an aspect of horror that will stick with you after the story is over.

It is a perfect read for a snowy or rainy day.
Sep 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Turns out The Book of Strange New Things wasn't a one off. Faber really is that good of a writer. This collection of three novellas certainly attests to it and, in fact, was a book of strange (very, but mesmerizingly so) new (to me) things. Meditative, pensive tales, even depressing at times, depending on one's mood. wasn't quite sure how to review, until the last story, which was just a work of sheer beauty and wonder. The author stated that he has now retired from storytelling, which is sort o ...more
Leah Shafer
Sep 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Faber's first novel The Crimson Petal and the White was so magnificent that I leaped at the chance to read something else by this literary badass.

IT WAS SO GOOD--three goodnesses, actually. The first, self-titled novella is a story about an English choral group retreating to the Belgian chateau for rehearsals on a modern piece. The second, The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps, is about a paper conservator on work holiday who discovers a grisly 1788 murder. Third, the Fahreinheit Twins, is the most
Marc Nash
Jun 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An accapella quintet, performers of difficult modern compositions. They have a date in a European modern music festival in Belgium. They are housed in a chateau in the middle of a forest in order to rehearse. They are called 'Courage' not for their ambition in tackling difficult works, but because it is the surname of Roger the group's leader and driving force. The book is narrated by his
wife Catherine, whose mind has been unravelling for some years now, but she still possesses the voice of an
This collection of three novellas by Faber runs quickly. The first and title story, "The Courage Consort" is a wonderful story with a double meaning title. It is about a group of singers who go to the Netherlands to pratice before a performance. Part of the charm comes from Faber's brillant character painting.

The second story, "The Hundred Ninety-Nine Steps" takes place in Whitby, yes that Whitby and those steps. There are no vampires here, at least not in the traditional sense of the word. Fabe
Caleb Liu
Apr 08, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I bought a copy of the single novella "The Courage Consort" having read and loved The Crimson Petal and White and heard rave reviews of Under The Skin. It was a short but interesting mock psychological Gothic tale of a vocal quintet rehearsing in a out of the way Belgian Chateau for the world premiere of some ghastly modernist piece. The Soprano hears strange noises in the woods - a symptom of her own fragile mental state surely? The disintegration of her mind and self into depression mirrors th ...more
Nov 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
full review:

I've come to realize that Michel Faber is really ****ing weird, and I love it. My third Faber adventure, after The Crimson Petal and the White and The Fire Gospel is his collection of three novellas entitled The Courage Consort. I liked it much better than The Fire Gospel and can see how his wit and his sense of the strange and surreal influenced the writing of Crimson Petal. These three novellas are witty, ironic, sometimes downright ridiculous, and unexpected
May 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Like many others, lured to read this collection by my enjoyment of his previous work. but I did not find this work as engaging. The Courage Consort is the best of the novellas, but could easily have been developed further, and probably should have. The story was too neatly wrapped up, without proper exploration or resolution of conflict. The second story was a snore and the characters irritating (maybe authors shouldn't be commissioned to write stories as publicity?). The last had potential, but ...more
Catherine Davison
Apr 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The blurb on the back says it's a devastating portrayal of a woman on the verge of madness, but I found the character , Catherine, to be possibly the sanest person in the ensemble. Perhaps that says more about me than the book. I enjoyed this novella, Faber never disappoints. His observations of people together, their quirks and fears and foibles all resonate immediately, it's like, yes I know someone exactly like that. He's very good at weaving a story out of very little, and in this story not ...more
Miriam Michalak
Oct 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
A suberb collection of three novella's written in Michel Faber's indomitable style - wonderful!
Susan Kinnevy
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I just love this author. This is actually three very different novellas, all of which are intriguing and thoughtful. The Courage Consort is a solidly constructed story of a small group of musicians practicing for a concert in a chalet in the middle of the forest. The main protagonist has the best story arc, moving from helpless female dependent on her husband to someone with a promise of self-sufficiency. The same type of protagonist is more robustly the center of 199 Steps, an archeologist suff ...more
Meg Onthemove Reading
I like the way that Faber's style of writing seems to change so much from novel to novel - in this novella there is always the sense that something is just out of reach and out of sight, of secrets and people's inner nuances left unexplored.

Whilst his more gothic and horror tales tend to be more descriptive, this is an interesting and understated tale. And very elegant for it. The subject matter of an unperformable piece of modern music and a singing group attempting to perform it with all the
May 23, 2018 rated it liked it
The Courage Consort by Michel Faber follows the seventh best a capella group in the world as they share a house in the Netherlands, practising an almost impossible piece of music. It focuses on the awkward relationships and tensions between the group, with a bit of odd spooky cries in the forest added for good measure.

As a short story (as opposed to a novella), The Courage Consort is a pretty good example of the form. It is filled with interesting observations and a group of characters that each
David Ashley
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A concise story that is full of imagery, you really get a sense of the inner world of the characters as well as the world they're inhabiting. Some of the writing made me feel a little uncomfortable, especially related to the main character of the story, Catherine. There is a sense that she is subservient to her husband and just lets him dictate her life. There is a sense of this changing throughout the book but it does make for uncomfortable reading at times. As does the writes fixation on the c ...more
Hannah Whiteoak
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this in one sitting. Michel Faber writes beautifully.

A group of singers meet in an isolated house to practice for an upcoming performance. It becomes increasingly clear that the piece they've agreed to perform is terrible. The point of view moves (very smoothly!) between all the characters, but the main focus is on Catherine, the suicidal wife of the group's leader. The plot isn't as gripping as that of Under the Skin (brilliant book by the same author) but every character is well-develop
Stephanie Miller
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like it, I truly did, but I could NOT STAND the female leads of the first two stories. I found them unsympathetic and annoying. Trust me, women do much more than worry about men all the time.

I enjoyed the "murder" in the second story and how it turned on itself and make you reconsider your own perceptions. I wish the Fareignheit Twins could have been longer and more fleshed out, it had so much potential.
Scott Underwood
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I like Faber's imagination. These stories kept me interested because each was so different. I'm not a fan of the endings, hence four stars on each book of his I have read, but I am a fan now. The Crimson Petal and the White will be next, though THAT one will take me a while.
Nov 02, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is made up of three novellas. I loved the second one and like the other two. The author is an excellent writer, but I much preferred his novel The Crimson Petal and the White to this book.
Jean Potter
May 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: library
Slightly strange but a good imaginative writer.
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting story and mix of characters. Not sure of the madness element.
Carlos Sámano
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: craft
Faber presents the mastery of great writing.
I read this book as an assignment for a craft class and I loved it.
Anthony Buck
Feb 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
Tedious book about tedious characters doing tedious things. Big disappointment after liking everything else I've read by Michel faber.
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an extremely talented author.
Jun 13, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars - a beautifully crafted and quirky novella. The story and characters just didn't quite grip me.
Juan Pinilla
Aug 28, 2019 rated it liked it
A nice piece of literature by a favourite author. A subtle and ironic narrative in a Belgian surrounding, with music, envy and intrigue as some key elements. Good read.
Highlight, pet a dog
Belgium won't fix your marriage
nor will the Arctic.
May 20, 2010 rated it liked it
This collection of three novellas actually rates a 3.5 from me; the writing is definitely above-average. I suspect that my problem is partially with the form itself: the narratives are not short enough to be short stories with a "zing" - that focus that E.A. Poe talks about - nor are they long enough to make plot complexity a necessity. So bear in mind that I may simply be a grumpy reader in not giving an out-and-out 4.

Of the three, I enjoyed the title novella, "The Courage Consort," the most. I
This is a short, tight, novella, with nary a spare word used.

It is the story of a 5 piece acapella group, who have agreed to try out a new piece written by a very rich (and somewhat "otherworldy" mentally) German and get two weeks in a Belgian Château to practise. The novella starts with Catherine - married to the group's founder Roger Courage - coming out the other side of psychological problems, which include depression and a hinted-at suicide attempt the year before.

They meet up at the Châtea
Jan 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Faber’s novella about an a cappella group may appeal to individuals who sing chorally. The Courage Consort derived their name not just from the Wesleyan adage about hymn singing – “sing lustily and with good courage” – but also from their reputation of performing music lesser musicians would lack courage to deliver. Faber wrote with versatility and an insider’s knowledge of the tensions, disagreements, conflicts that coexist with rapturous moments of seamless harmony when a group sings together. ...more
Aug 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
A very strong four stars for this collection of three novellas. Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White ranks with Ian McEwan's Atonement as the two best novels I've read that were written this century, but I did not care for Under the Skin at all. These stories are completely unlike either work in theme and setting, but Faber's master characterization abilities in The Crimson Petal are on display here.

The Courage Consort concerns a singing group sequestered at a cottage in Benelux to practice a
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Michel Faber (born 13 April 1960) is a Dutch writer of English-language fiction.

Faber was born in The Hague, The Netherlands. He and his parents emigrated to Australia in 1967. He attended primary and secondary school in the Melbourne suburbs of Boronia and Bayswater, then attended the University Of Melbourne, studying Dutch, Philosophy, Rhetoric, English Language (a course involving translation a

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