Burlesque dancer Blanche Beunon tries to discover who murdered her friend Jenny, who was shot through a window in a railroad saloon in 1876 San Francisco, amidst a record-breaking heat wave and smallpox epidemic. 200,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)
Burlesque dancer Blanche Beunon tries to discover who murdered her friend Jenny, who was shot through a window in a railroad saloon in 1876 San Francisco, amidst a record-breaking heatwave and smallpox epidemic. - (Baker & Taylor)
"Emma Donoghue's explosive new novel, based on an unsolved murder in 1876 San Francisco. Summer of 1876: San Francisco is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heatwave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman called Jenny Bonnet is shot dead. The survivor, her friend Blanche Beunon, is a French burlesque dancer. Over the next three days, she will risk everything to bring Jenny's murderer to justice--if he doesn't track her down first. The story Blanche struggles to piece together is one of free-love bohemians, desperate paupers and arrogant millionaires; of jealous men, icy women and damaged children. It's the secret life of Jenny herself, a notorious character who breaks the law every morning by getting dressed: a charmer as slippery as the frogs she hunts. In thrilling, cinematic style, FROG MUSIC digs up a long-forgotten, never-solved crime. Full of songs that migrated across the world, Emma Donoghue's lyrical tale of love and bloodshed among lowlifes captures the pulse of a boomtown like no other"-- - (Baker & Taylor)
*Starred Review* Donoghue flawlessly combines literary eloquence and vigorous plotting in her first full-fledged mystery, a work as original and multifaceted as its young murder victim. During the scorching summer of 1876, Jenny Bonnet, an enigmatic cross-dressing bicyclist who traps frogs for San Francisco's restaurants, meets her death in a railroad saloon on the city's outskirts. Exotic dancer Blanche Beunon, a French immigrant living in Chinatown, thinks she knows who shot her friend and why, but has no leverage to prove it and doesn't know if she herself was the intended target. A compulsive pleasure-seeker estranged from her "fancy man," Blanche searches desperately for her missing son while pursuing justice for Jenny, but finds her two goals sit in conflict. In language spiced with musical interludes and raunchy French slang, Donoghue brings to teeming life the nasty, naughty side of this ethnically diverse metropolis, with its brothels, gaming halls, smallpox-infested boardinghouses, and rampant child abuse. Most of her seedy, damaged characters really lived, and she not only posits a clever solution to a historical crime that was never adequately solved but also crafts around Blanche and Jenny an engrossing and suspenseful tale about moral growth, unlikely friendship, and breaking free from the past. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Library Journal Reviews
Donoghue caught everyone's attention with Room, a visceral stunner that has sold more than 1.5 million copies and was a 2010 Man Booker Prize finalist. Her follow-up short story collection, Astray, demonstrated her uncanny ability to turn historical fact into affecting fiction. She'll doubtless do that again in this new novel, based on an unsolved murder in 1876 San Francisco. As the city is swept by smallpox and wrenching heat, Jenny Bonnet is shot to death through the window of a railroad saloon, and friend Blanche Beunon, a French burlesque dancer, meets the stuck-up wealthy, the desperately poor, and the determinedly bohemian as she searches of the killer. Not surprisingly, there's a 200,000-copy first printing and a ten-city tour.
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Library Journal Reviews
Clothes make the man, it's said, but don't tell that to Jenny Bonnet, the cross-dressing, frog-catching, gun-toting antiheroine of Donoghue's genre-defying new novel, set in late 1800s California. When the inimitable Jenny loses control of her high-wheel bicycle, riding smack into prostitute and exotic dancer Blanche Beunon, something extraordinary happens: Blanche discovers female friendship. Viewing her life through Jenny's lens, Blanche finds her fantasy world evaporating. Her lover Arthur Deneve, a gambler and a dandy, is nothing more than her pimp. And where, Blanche wonders, did he really take the little boy she gave birth to a year ago? Donoghue's evocative language invades the senses with the sights and smells of Chinatown, the frying food, boisterous saloons, even the sickrooms of victims of the smallpox epidemic. Readers won't quickly forget this rollicking, fast-paced novel, which is based on a true story and displays fine bits of humor with underlying themes of female autonomy and the right to own one's sexual identity. VERDICT A murder mystery, a feminist manifesto, and a human interest story, this will likely be compared to Donoghue's well-received Slammerkin, but it was her blockbuster, Room, soon to be a major motion picture, that made Donoghue a book group darling. Expect lots of requests. [See Prepub Alert, 10/4/13.]—Sally Bissell, Fort Myers, FL
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