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3.22  ·  Rating details ·  612 ratings  ·  135 reviews
A deliciously twisted and seductive historical tale of piano playing, passions, and female power

The setting of Sedition by Katharine Grant: London, 1794.

The problem: Four nouveau riche fathers with five marriageable daughters.

The plan: The young women will learn to play the piano, give a concert for young Englishmen who have titles but no fortunes, and will marry very well
Hardcover, 307 pages
Published April 1st 2014 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published 2014)
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Average rating 3.22  · 
Rating details
 ·  612 ratings  ·  135 reviews

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Roman Clodia
Apr 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderfully sly and mischievous book which takes the bare bones of a nineteenth-century novel and gives them an audacious makeover. A group of mercantile families in 1794 London are keen to marry off their five daughters and so decide to have them give a musical concert to put them on public display and catch husbands. But with various plots afoot, the plan goes outrageously wrong...

Grant writes wonderfully but this is a darker, in places, read than some of the reviews indicate. At the
Althea Ann
Jan 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Well, this is a ... weird... book.
I can't really think of anything else I've read that I would compare it to. It's internally consistent, but the tone is a strange mix of humor, tragedy, and prurience.

Five young women - all the daughters of social climbers. Their parents concoct a scheme to have the girls present a musical concert, playing the newfangled pianoforte, in order to lure titled husbands.

To this end, a piano is acquired and a music master hired. However, due to the piano-seller's off
Kristen McDermott
Cleverly written but darkish satire on English social manners, in which a French music master is bribed into attempting to seduce five young pupils before the concert at which they are to be presented to their future husbands. Wicked humor alternates with pathos and a gothic intensity of emotion. Very hard to categorize, but intriguing and original.
Katy Noyes
May 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Delightfully amoral, a wicked tale of seduction that channels both Les Liaisons Dangereuses and The Piano.

Several 'new money' families decide to showcase their daughters in the marriage market by purchasing a top-notch pianoforte and training up their girls to perform for nobility. Instrument-maker Cantabile is affronted by the idea of untrained and clumsy girls touching his handmade piece of art. He sends Monsiuer Belladroit to the families, ostensibly as their instructor. But really to seduce
A rather silly, but enjoyable enough bit of historic erotica here... this book is trying to channel all the bawdy goodness of great classics like Fanny Hill, Dangerous Liasions and Vanity Fair with a dash of The Crimson Petal thrown in for good measure. I don't think it manages the brilliance of any of these works, but it does create a story that is worth a few hours reading.
The story follows a group of girls out to catch themselves titled husbands; money is not an issue, but breeding will be s
Siobhan Mackie
In the London of 1794, four fathers and three mothers require husbands for their five daughters. In a meeting between the fathers, it is declared fashionable for young ladies to learn the Pianoforte, and therefore their daughters should learn the instrument and perform a concert in the hopes of seducing husbands with their music. Unfortunately, the piano maker has other ideas. His daughter, Annie, has a cleft lip, and so has always been a disappointment to him. In retaliation for him being so ho ...more
Feb 27, 2014 rated it did not like it
The promotional blurbs make this sound like a fabulous book, one of them compares Sedition to Sarah Water's Fingersmith. When I hear a book being compared to Fingersmith I think that means the writing is excellent and the story is amazing and I get all happy and excited thinking about the potential greatness of what I'm about to read. It's always after I read the book that was compared to Fingersmith that I remember what they really mean when they compare something to Fingersmith (the story has ...more
Apr 24, 2014 rated it liked it
I would never have read Sedition if it weren't on the Desmond Elliott longlist - it just didn't sound my kind of thing. And now I've read it, I'm not sure what sort of a thing it is. It's not a satire, or a farce as it's just not funny and it's definitely not sexy. I'm the last person who would say that a novel should be instantly classifiable, and I usually enjoy something a bit different, but this is just decidedly odd. There are too many similar characters - with five sets of businessmen, wiv ...more
Sarah u
In London in 1794, four fathers buy a pianoforte for their five daughters, who are to give a concert to attract titled husbands. Let the mayhem begin....

This book was not what I was expecting when I read the blurb in the bookshop. It is dark, deceptive, and quite creepy, yet at the same time it is beautifully written, humorous in places, and exciting. It might not suit everyone, but this week it suited me perfectly.

Trigger / content warnings:
(view spoiler)
Apr 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
This has got to be one of the strangest and most unsettling books I've ever read. In the edgy, offbeat historical fiction genre that I so love, I would compare it most to Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, but this one is far more disquieting and not near as satisfying. This is hard to rate; I loved aspects of it, and the writing is sharp and wonderful, but at the same time it's left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. I think with a less jarring final section I would have really loved this. ...more
Renita D'Silva
Feb 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved this wonderful, funny yet poignant and above all very entertaining book. A delightful read.
Dec 11, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a tongue-in-cheek, droll but dark tale set in 1794 London. If you like comedies of manners set in historical times, this would be like their dark and somewhat depressing but witty cousin. It's well written, has well-developed and varied characters, supplies some very funny and entertaining moments, and manages to be unpredictable and unexpected in its development. I found myself liking and not liking the book all at the same time. When I read a comedy of manners, which I originally thoug ...more
Jo Chambers
This was a strange book set in 1790s London, a time of great political and social upheaval. Five teenage girls, daughters of wealthy men in the financial markets of the City, are in the market for marriage, preferably to the aristocracy, some of whom need the 'new' money. Two pianofortes and a teacher are hired to teach the girls this new instrument, and a concert is planned for the girls to show off their skills and physical attributes. Its a sort of human meat market.
However, subversion is in
Lawrence Hogue
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book, right up until the end, when I didn't (which means I wish I could give it 4.5 stars). The plot involving four bourgeois families in late 18th-century London out to marry their five daughters into the nobility is a brilliant skewering of economic marriage and the type of romance novel that celebrates it. "Jane Austen on crack," as one reviewer put it, is a good description, although LSD might have been a better drug of choice.

Grant's writing is crisp, the narrative economical,
Stephen Goldenberg
Nov 02, 2014 rated it liked it
My main reservation about a lot of historical novels is that the writers have often done so much research that the novel becomes so stuffed with period detail that the story gets swamped and I feel I'd be better off reading a non-fiction account. That's not the case with this novel. There's just enough background to give you a sense of London in 1794 -and, in particular, the effects of French Revolution hovering over everything. The beginnings of the industrial revolution and the shift of power ...more
Alice O'neill
Feb 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is not about sex, though there's plenty of it, often hilarious, occasionally not. Sex is the pepper and salt atop the meat pie. This book is about power. It's uses and abuses and the many shades inbetween; keeping it, loosing it, aspiring to it, wielding it. Brought down and sent up by it (the denouement, a poke in the ribs at'Big Brother' type celebrity), a masterpiece and one of the funniest descriptions I've ever read, I'm still laughing. The power of love and the power of tyranny. ...more
Jun 22, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"This man was French. She felt quite flustered. He must be a catholic, and probably part of the nonsense going on over the sea ... Mrs Frogmorton stood straight. She understood at once that she was being charmed. This is what foreigners did. She resented it."

It would have been hard not to read this book about London and the anticipation during the French Revolution and not draw parallels to today's political happenings.

The fear of the foreigner and the unspoken truths about sex are what push
Debbie Ballard
Dec 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I received a wonderfully written story with engrossing characters ARC goodreads giveaway Sedition: A Novel by Katherine Grant.
Four fathers get together and come up with the perfect plan to marry off their daughters, a piano concert performance. Mr. Drigg's purchases a pianoforte from Mr. Cantabile who recommends Monsieur Belldroit. The instructor, Monsieur Belldroit, doesn't only want to help the young ladies with their pianoforte lessons.
Read the captivating, entertaining, humorous, engaging c
Sep 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, this was a weird one! I really don't know how to rate it or what to say. The author, in her notes, says she gave it to her 92 year old father to read and he promptly developed shingles and retired to his bed. I can't imagine giving this to my father to read, and that must be a first as I take books to him on a weekly basis and never apply any prudence to my choices.

So, five girls and one French music teacher. Chuck in a girl with a facial deformity, some particularly horrible parents and a
Feb 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
London, 1791, In order to marry off their daughters to titled gentry, four nouveau riche fathers organise for their daughters to learn the piano and to give a recital. The fathers might want one thing, but their daughters have their own agency which subverts the plan and drives the story. Grant fascinatingly takes measure of her characters by their appreciation and execution of “Herr Bach’s" music. In her wickedly alluring romp through late Georgian London’s love and marriage market, Grant tips ...more
May 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What a riot! This novel takes place in the late 1700's, and I never heard a version of the young teenage girl of that era depicted like this before. The novelist has been writing children's and young adult stories for years and is well respected. It was a lot of fun and I read it pretty darn fast!
Miranda Saville
Nov 24, 2016 rated it did not like it
Grim. Repulsive and sordid and done before - perhaps not to the accompaniment of Bach, but done before. At times I felt grubby reading it and what worries me more is why the man at Waterstones recommended it to me!
Lauren James
Dec 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well, that was brilliantly, ridiculously mad. This book is the exact definition of a wild ride from start to finish.
Dec 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015
Seduction, music and calculation in 1794 London: a slow-paced but entertaining historical novel full of lasciviousness and delightfully devoid of moral hang-ups.
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It didn't work for me. Compared on the back cover to Sarah Waters - in my mind the comparison is an unfavourable one. ...more
May 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: desert-island
Dirty, delicious, and kind of devastating - probably the most fun book I've read all year (decade?). TV adaptation please. ...more
Oct 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Several wealthy merchants in London are looking to marry off their daughters, Georgina, Harriet, Evelina, Marianne and Alathea. In a bid to see their daughters well-matched, the families engage the services of a pianoforte teacher. The teacher will help the girls prepare for a concert which will then launch them into Society while simultaneously displaying them to eligible men. The families hope that they girls will charm potential husbands with their talents at this concert. These plans are und ...more
Paul Van Heest
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Katharine Grant has written a treat of a historical comedy in Sedition, saucy and spicy and savory. I tasted. I feasted. I glutted.

In England just before the close of the eighteenth century, Ms. G gives us four merchants, Messrs. Drigg, Brass, Frogmorton and Sawneyford, who concoct a scheme to parlay their mercantile riches into titled marriages for their daughters. The plan involves a pianoforte from an Italian instrument-maker, lessons from a French music master, and a grand concert that thei
Christina Rochester
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
What in seven hells have I just read? Did I actually pay money to read this? Oh wait no I didn’t my mother did 😂 god bless gift vouchers.

I recall that there was a scene I read today that I decided would be the reason for my adding a second star, but for the life of me I cannot remember it. Unless it was the gelding. Perhaps it was that.

Anyway this book is mediocre at best. Harsh I know but I cannot summon any love for Sedition. None of the characters seem to have any real development, the only
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how to catch a husband, London, 1794 1 4 Jan 09, 2015 03:09PM  

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Katharine Grant was born into a family described by Lord Burghley, Treasurer to Elizabeth 1st, as of ‘more than usual perversity’ for clinging to their Catholic faith, an act, during the Reformation, of blatant sedition. In 1746 her five times great uncle, Francis Towneley, supported Bonnie Prince Charlie, and, as a result, was the last person in the UK to be hanged, drawn and quartered. His head ...more

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“He remembered wishing, not on that day but very soon after, that Everina might die. She was not a girl given to suppressing her appetites, and being Monsieur’s little goat meant, she made very clear, that the pleasures of his hand, and on occasion other parts of his person, were hers whenever required. How else might she learn all he could teach her? Within days, his wrists ached at the very thought of her.” 0 likes
“I believe the cognoscenti admire music by a man called Bach,’ Marianne said, stressing the Italian with a smug nod at Mrs Frogmorton and a slight simper for Monsieur.

‘They do,’ Monsieur agreed.

‘Does Mr Bach write for the pianoforte? Could he compose something specially for us?’

‘I doubt that.’ Monsieur Belladroit fanned his fingers.

‘Is a commission from us not important enough?’ Marianne was at her most superior. ‘If that’s so, I think Herr Bach overestimates himself.’

‘Herr Bach, good ladies, is dead, and has been for some time.”
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