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Music & Silence

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  3,605 ratings  ·  287 reviews
Set in seventeenth-century Denmark, Rose Tremain's dazzling, prize-winning tale is a pungently atmospheric, richly provocative, and masterfully orchestrated romance of point and counterpoint: loyalty and deception...tenderness and and alienation...peace and conflict..."Music & Silence." Peter Claire is an English lutenist summoned to Denmark to ...more
Paperback, 485 pages
Published May 1st 2001 by Washington Square Press (first published 1999)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  3,605 ratings  ·  287 reviews

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Oct 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Followers of contemporary music with classical layout.
Shelves: read-in-2014
To choose music as the restoring element of order, beauty and harmony and silence to weave the nuanced voices of a dozen characters tossed by the turbulent currents of History is not an easy task per-se, particularly if the reality of place and time includes shifting narratives, past and present tenses and a historical frame that happens tangentially to the plots and subplots of the story.
The endeavor becomes even more ambitious when the setting is the Denmark of the 17th Century, an isolated
Ahmad Sharabiani
Music and Silence, Rose Tremain
Rose Tremain was born Rosemary Jane Thomson on 2 August 1943 in London. Music and Silence is a novel written by the English author Rose Tremain. It is set in and around the court of Christian IV of Denmark in the years 1629 and 1630. The main historical event depicted is the end of Christian's second marriage, to Kirsten Munk, and the start of his third, to Vibeke Kruse "Vibeke Kruse (died 1648) was the official mistress of King Christian IV of Denmark between 1629
Due to my unreasonable irritability the author's reversal of the historical relationship between Christian IV and his mother over money and the bizarre invention of having the Danes ask the Russians for mining experts to help them develop silver mines in Norway but who are eaten by wolves on their way there, (the Russians had no expertise in silver mining in the 17th century(view spoiler)
If you are
Mar 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
I am a late convert to Rose Tremain's writing - and what beautiful writing it is. Having suffered through some appalling novels of late, it was wonderful to have this novel remind me that there are still some very talented authors out there!

It took me a little while to get used to the episodic nature of this novel - more pronounced than in 'Restoration'- but I found myself engaged by the characters and their stories (even the appalling Kirsten!) and intrigued by the narrative. At times the novel
Patricia Bracewell
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Set in 17th century Denmark at the court of Christian the 4th, this book reminds me of a fairy tale by Hans Andersen, for it is full of magic and wonder. The writing is lovely, except for the sections in which certain characters revel in some rather sordid sexual antics. The writing, though, fits the characters and events. There are several witches, a king, the good girl, the hero -- even a boy who works wonders. They are all larger than life -- another element that adds to the feeling of ...more
Sep 30, 2008 rated it did not like it
I read a review in this week's New Yorker on a new Tremaine book that praised her older work, so I went to the library and got Music & Silence, which has a Whitbread Award. It concerns a lute player and his misadventures in 17th C Denmark. Sadly for me, it's written in that faux archaic style which some authors think emulates the time they are writing about, and I find it cloying. How does she know people talked like that? To add to my chagrin, the characters seem to be either saints or ...more
Loved it..couldnt put it down. I love the way its written from different perspectives and jumps back in time so you gradually learn more about the characters backrounds and connections. Im not a massive fan of alot of Historical fiction, preferring to read the real thing. For example - Alison Weirs or Antonia Frasers biographies of European Royals are as gripping as any fiction with plots counter-plots intrigue and sumptous detail, why would you need a weak inaccurate story built around the same ...more
Nikki Bezdel
Jun 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012

A difficult book to lose yourself in. The skill of the author in creating exquisite prose is undeniable, but I have to confess to losing interest in the story on more than a couple of occasions. The switching back and forth between numerous points of view leaves one somewhat adrift and the story does tend to meander off the point quite regularly. All in all, if you enjoy a literary work of considerable skill, you will enjoy the magic woven with words here. However, I found the plot leaden and
Ambitious, engaging, flawed

Tremain synthesizes an array of narrators, points of view, writing styles, tenses in this historical novel which, mysteriously, contains little in the way of actual history.

Let it be said at the outset that I have little experience of historical novels, so I’m no judge of this as an example of the genre.

The main arc follows an English lutenist, Peter Claire, as he travels to Denmark in 1629 to join King Christian IV’s orchestra, and is the portrayal of a love story.
David Lowther
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Music and Silence is the third of Rose Tremain's novels I've read following on from The Way I found Her (excellent) and The Gustav Sonata (masterpiece). It most certainly won't be the last.

The story is set in 1629 and 1630 in Denmark while the Thirty Years War rages in the background. Moving from one location to another (part of the novel is set in Ireland and part in England), this is essentially a complex love story and a tale of coming to terms with one's own weaknesses and willingness to
Music & Silence is beautifully written. Though the plot is relatively simple, it becomes suspenseful towards the end. There is a feeling of disconnect from the characters, perhaps due to the prose style itself or the historical era. The other character that the reader seems to fully get to know is Kirsten. The character of Christian IV is kept at a distance, almost King Arthur like. This is not wholly surprising considering the historical background for the story and who the actual people ...more
Jan 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Music and Silence is a beautifully written, lyrical novel which explores music, silence and much, much more.

Set in 17th Century Denmark, the stories of multiple characters intertwine and the tale of each is equally captivating. The description and sense of place is superb, the changing scenery was vivid in my mind.

I especially loved the way in which Rose Tremain blended the historical and magical and that there is nothing predictable in the story or it ending.
Enjoyed this story of a young musician in the 17th century Danish court - brilliantly realised and full of intriguing detail.
Jun 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Enjoyable and unexpectedly entertaining read.
Oct 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Fiona by: Jon
Music and Silence takes you, dream-like, through 17th Century Denmark during the time of King Christian IV. I'm not sure how historically accurate this book is yet, I thought I would look it up after reading it.

Tremain chose a rather unusual method of storytelling. It was written in little episodes from the perspectives of multiple characters that all played some small part, that reflected both music and silence - the real, the unreal, the magical the unmagical. I think it will take a little
Mar 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star-rated
I found this book a bit hard to get into, but once I was, I found it hard to put down.

This is a wonderful historical novel set in the early 1600's in Denmark. King Christian IV is a decent king (as a result of his boyhood) with growing concerns (perhaps somewhat paranoid) about the financial state of his kingdom. He lives with his ghastly adulterous wife Kirsten, and retreats from his daily miseries in his chamber music. His musicians are the finest in Europe and they must play for him at will
Description: In the year 1629, a young English lutenist named Peter Claire arrives at the Danish Court to join King Christian IV's Royal Orchestra. From the moment when he realizes that the musicians perform in a freezing cellar underneath the royal apartments, Peter Claire understands that he's come to a place where the opposing states of light and dark, good and evil are waging war to the death. Designated the King's 'Angel' because of his good looks, he finds himself falling in love with the ...more
Mar 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Better than "Trespass" (the first book of the author that I have read). It is quite entertaining, engrossing and surprising for me because I am not really into historical novels, especially dramas and books based on real stories of royal families. Since the book is narrated by the perspectives of several characters, every part has a different tone. I will especially remember this book with the hilarious narrative of Queen Kirsten and Marcus, the child who can hear and understand the sounds of ...more
Jan 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Based on the first 100 pages: the characters are being introduced and it sounds as plot is going somewhere and maybe it gets somewhere, but I lost interest with presentation of characters and no sense of plot.

Some reviewers already described the style of writing very well as archaic.
Sep 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
One of my favorite Tremain offerings. I've found most any of hers are worth the time but I loved the period setting here.
Kathy Sharp
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have arrived late at the works of Rose Tremain - but better late than never, as they say. A chance choice at the charity book table brought Music & Silence into my possession, and the beautiful, exceptional writing drew me in straight away. It's a wonderfully crafted piece - the weaving together of the lives of a disparate group of people at the court of King Christian IV of Denmark in the 17th century. Striking characters, atmospheric settings, and the tides of good and bad fortune all ...more
Nov 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Rose Tremain is a consummate storyteller. In Music & Silence she weaves a tale from a number of different, distinct but interlinked points of view.

Set in Denmark in the 17th century, the narrative meanders between many voices, including:

A music-loving king
His sensual but music-loathing wife
A man who dreams of divine music and drives himself to the brink of madness trying to recreate it
An English lutenist
A small boy who can hear the whisperings and mutterings of the creatures of the fields
Michael Rumney
Oct 12, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Disappointing, over written with too much flowery language which suffocates the plot. King Christian's orchestra are made to play in a damp dark cellar and that was the only interesting thing about the book.
Being there with them was preferable to reading this shocker.
Wow, this was an interesting read, if a bit heavy at times. It's about two years in the middle of the reign of the most popular Danish king, Christian IV, namely of the time when he finally got fed up with the antics of his morganatic wife Kirsten Munk and sent her away. I'm ashamed to admit I didn't know anything about the historical figures mentioned in the book (apart from Dowland), so I had to check some stuff when I finished, which was about 10 minutes ago.
The book is very long, and has
Elizabeth (Alaska)
As might be assumed from the title, references to both music and silence permeate the book. The "hero" is a lutenist whose music - whose very presence - apparently soothes King Christian IV. I admit to not being familiar with the sound of a lute, but Peter Claire had been hired to play with the King's orchestra, though it is a very small ensemble, not one we would think of as an orchestra. Silences come often and are represented in many ways.
As they part, both men reflect upon all that might
Pixie Dust
Nov 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Such a joy to read really well-crafted descriptions of atmosphere, character and sentiments in general. Tremain has an amazing ability to immerse the reader in her writing. I was able to lose myself in her world of captivating characters with their persistent yearnings and unfulfilled hopes and desires. Her prose is very affecting. Every time I put down the book, I felt left with a sense of vague yearning for I know not what. The book is so intense – and so lengthy – that it is quite heavy to ...more
Stephen Redwood
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The skill with which the various strands of this story are interwoven is extraordinary. It paints a fascinating picture of life and politics in Denmark in the 17th century, as well as it's relationships with other European countries. The story itself took me a little while to become absorbed by, and every so often some of the liberties taken with coincidence struck me as being more typical of the short cuts movies take than those you expect in a sophisticated novel. Nevertheless, by the end I ...more
Angela Young
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The research Tremain must have done for this book is astounding but it never shows. I heard an interview with her on Woman's Hour recently (about her new novel, Merivel, A Man of his Time) in which she quoted Rudyard Kipling's attitude to research. He said (I'm paraphrasing) that you should build up your research the way you build up a fire but when you're actually writing a book you should merely riddle that fire ... and Tremain is a past mistress of that. I loved this book. It has so many ...more
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
2003- Peter Claire travels in 1629 from England to Denmark to be part of King Christian IV's orchestra. Swirling around him are tons of stories, and at least 12+ different viewpoints are used in the book, each showing the differences of how people's age, sex and status makes them view events. King Christian and his wife Kirsten's marriage is on the rocks, the country of Denmark is almost broke, and Peter and his love Emilia are kept away from each other. We also see the stories of how King ...more
Bre Teschendorf
Jan 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: history lovers. romantic fantatics, music lovers
This is the story of a Danish king, his rogue queen and his musicians and their loves in the middle ages. This book is written in choppy paragraphs jumping back and forth in time with lots of detail and interesting tidbits about life in that time period. The modern writing style made it very refreshing to read.
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Play Book Tag: Music & Silence by Rose Tremain - 4 stars (on the bookshelf) 22 23 Apr 11, 2016 08:16AM  

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Rose Tremain's best-selling novels have won many awards, including the Baileys Women's Prize, the Whitbread Novel of the Year, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and the Prix Femina Etranger. Restoration, the first of her novels to feature Robert Merivel, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She lives in Norfolk and London with the biographer Richard Holmes.
“And she did not want him to think her quite mad, only a little unique, only containing within her just that measure of the unexpected sufficient to make her irreplaceable.” 14 likes
“Acceptance, she thinks, is the harshest lesson life teaches and the one most important to learn.” 6 likes
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