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symphony

An audacious, brilliant and haunting novel about the composer Hector Belioz, by the author of PASSION.In 1827 Harriet Smithson, a beautiful and talented young Irish actress joins an English company taking Shakespeare to Paris. With the ferment of revolution in the air, the new generation is longing for a kind of passionate, spontaneous art. To Harriet's astonishment, it isAn audacious, brilliant and haunting novel about the composer Hector Belioz, by the author of PASSION.In 1827 Harriet Smithson, a beautiful and talented young Irish actress joins an English company taking Shakespeare to Paris. With the ferment of revolution in the air, the new generation is longing for a kind of passionate, spontaneous art. To Harriet's astonishment, it is embodied in her - La Belle Irlandaise. She finds herself pursued by an intense young composer named Hector Berlioz. So begins a painful and profound love affair. She is his muse; his id�e fixe; his obsession. And Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, directly inspired by Harriet, will change music forever. In the course of their marriage, their lives are transfigured and destroyed by genius, inspiration, and ultimately madness. SYMPHONY is set against a background of nineteenth-century theatre, Romantic art and music, revolutionary Europe, inspiration and madness and features Liszt, Delacroix, Dumas, Hugo and Chopin. But at its heart lies the story of a woman who found, almost against her will, that she was a maker of magic....

Title : Symphony
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780755327737
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 467 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Symphony Reviews

  • David Dunlap
    2018-11-23 19:47

    (I'd give this one SIX stars...if GoodReads would allow me to do so...) A biographical novel about French composer Hector Berlioz -- especially focusing on his romance and marriage with Harriet Smithson. Wonderful insight into the characters and a strong sense of place (as one would expect from this author). Also very moving. A genuine triumph -- and my favorite among the Morgan novels I've read thus far. (I even RE-read it some time after the first reading!)

  • Margaret
    2018-11-17 14:55

    Harriet Smithson is an Irish actress; she is from a theatrical family, yet she spent her childhood resisting their calling. Hector Berlioz is meant to follow in his father's footsteps as a doctor, yet he cannot resist the music within him. When Harriet comes to Paris with an English company to act Shakespeare, Berlioz sees her as Ophelia and instantly adores her. After years of an obsession which produces Symphonie Fantastique (probably Berlioz's best-known work), they eventually meet and begin a powerful, painful love affair.I have to say first that I did not care for the book's style. Morgan switches between past tense and present tense, often with different styles of punctuation; he interpolates first-person bits in which it seems Harriet is addressing the author directly, and there are even odder bits in which the author is essentially interviewing other composers (Chopin, Mendelssohn) about Hector and Harriet. I've read books where the author's tense changes seemed to mean something (Jo Walton's Lifelode or Rumer Godden's China Court The Hours of a Country House), but here, I just found them and the other style variations confusing and self-consciously clever. Every time the style changed, I was bounced out of the narrative and had to work to re-immerse myself.But dislike of the style aside, I always was able to dive back into the book and keep reading with enjoyment. Morgan does beautifully with the period, with the characters, and most of all, with the portrayal of life as an artist (whether actor or composer). The novel does slow in the last hundred pages or so, because once Harriet and Hector are together, the tension of wondering when that would happen is gone and replaced by a drearier anxiety over how long their relationship will actually last. On balance, though, it's an excellent story, and the only thing stopping me from giving the book four stars is the overly elaborate style.

  • Sarah
    2018-11-29 19:51

    Wow...this book was so difficult to endure, and as hard as I tried to truck along to finish it, I had to quit at page 134. The premise surrounds the lives of infamous composer Hector Berlioz and the love of his life, actress Harriet Smithson. Anyone who takes the team to learn about this doomed couple would be instantly piqued at the historical fiction fabricated around their relationship or love-affair, if you can call it that. The story is extremely intriguing, but the style of the book is not enjoyable at all. The feel of the novel is so detached, and for a current novel published in 2006, it has the feel of a forgotten classic that sometimes you have to read as a college or school project. The language is hard to follow, and it's nearly impossible to stay interested. The book is a total of 374 pages, and by the time I got to my stopping point at page 134, we still hadn't reached the part where Harriet and Hector know of each other's existence. I don't think the biography portion, 90% about Harriet at this point, is really going to impact the remainder of the book. It's so boring that although I absolutely LOVE the idea of reading about Hector and Harriet, I'm just so against quitting this book and throwing it aside.I honestly hope future readers get more out of this novel than me, and can enlighten me with a better journal entry. Best of luck to the person that takes this book on next.

  • Joana
    2018-11-17 19:46

    I'm a big fan of Jude Morgan's writing but I struggled a little to read this book.The richness and uniqueness of Morgan's style is still there but the story is very slow paced and I found it a little boring at times. As usual, the characters are marvelously constructed and complex. You don't have to like theatre and music to read this book, but I imagine it makes it a lot more interesting. The sections I most enjoyed were ironically the ones about secondary characters: Dr. Berlioz, Adèle and the quirky interviews the narrator did to random characters. It is a well-written book but it failed to completely grip me, like Passion or Touch of Sorrow.

  • Sharonb
    2018-11-24 19:00

    really struggled to finish this.

  • Alexandra Scarborough
    2018-12-11 21:42

    This was the first book I have read by Jude Morgan, and it definitely made me want to examine more of his work. I would actually give this novel 3 1/2 stars if that were possible in the ratings system.First, I am a fan of good historical fiction, and this novel fit that bill. It was rich in its interpretation of the lives of Hector and Harriet Smithson Berlioz, and was a heartbreaking examination of the conflicting private thoughts we all have about our relationships, our value, our meaning in the world. There were moments the prose that were so affecting, I considered posting snippets of it on social media, because even out of context, it was profound. However, this beautiful language can also be a bit trying at times, as it feels like Morgan becomes lost in his own expression and his reader can end up a bit lost, too, in terms of where he's headed. I can understand his impulse for that, however, because each of our emotions are layered by memory, by doubt, by confusion. We are constantly traveling at multiple speeds in our heads. As well, Morgan has a deep understanding of the inner life of the artist. Harriet's struggle in her love/hate relationship with the stage is one I have experienced myself as a long-time professional actor and director. His interpretation of composers' personalities through their work was also interesting and effective choice. For those who are fans of more concise writing, this novel may not be to your liking. However, I found it lovely and was deeply moved by its ending.

  • Bowerbird
    2018-12-09 21:05

    This is the story of Hector Berlioz, but also that of his wife Harriet. Born in Ireland of a theatrical family, her unconventional upbringing and her experience as an actress - a career she does not initially want - contrasts sharply with that of Hector's. His father, a doctor, wants his son to follow in his footsteps, but Hector is more and more determined to make music his life. As "entertainment" is not seen as respectable in the Berlioz family, Hector's choice makes him an outcast. His marriage only strengthens the estrangement. Although his genius is not truly recognised during his lifetime, Harriet is shown as an important source of his inspiration. It is therefore appropriate that we learn so much about Harriet's early life. The early writing style has a musical breathlessness as each character grows, matures and falls in love. Only towards the end of the book when their relationship no longer works properly does it seem to jar. Although this could be deliberate, this slightly marrs the final chapters.

  • Sarah
    2018-12-05 14:43

    Well, Jude Morgan is officially now one of my favorite authors. He writes just the kind of books I love best (at least the kind of books I love best right now--I go through different reading moods): lush historical fiction, written in an innovative and modernist style, with poetic language, and focused largely on literary types--artists, bohemians, nonconformists, etc. I did have a couple minor issues with this book. It seemed oddly paced to me; it was leisurely and minutely detailed about the time before the lovers meet (pretty much the first 2/3 of the book), but strangely rushed and truncated about the time that the couple was actually together pre-mistress. Also, I really didn't get a feel for how it was exactly that Harriet served as muse for Hector--which of course is kind of the main point of the book. But I have to give it at least 4 stars for the gorgeous writing style, the heartbreaking tragic romanticism, and the sheer enjoyment of reading it.

  • Kari
    2018-12-01 21:07

    I loved the use of language in this. Jude Morgan mixes the rhythm and musicality of speech with styles based in opera and the theatre. Like Morgan's novel 'Passion' this book is based on real life people. In this case it is that of composer Hector Berlioz and actress Harriet Smithson which makes it all the more interesting. The only slight grumble is that you are left with a few unanswered questions as to the narrator who sometimes pauses to talk directly to Harriet, and the identity of the interviewer of the other composers during the interludes. This does not detract from the story though, just leaves you slightly frustrated when you've finished it!

  • Lexi Tatar
    2018-12-04 17:01

    There was a lot of time spent on the beginning of Harriet's career. This didn't make much sense until the end once I realized how much her character changed and lost everything I came to know in the first half of the book. In general, very fast paced and enjoyable. Morgan writes in a very comfortable writing style where it's just challenging enough that you want to continue to read on. The best way to describe the ending though is anticlimactic. I was hoping for something much more passionate between Hector and Harriet nonetheless, the finality was sweet.

  • Molly
    2018-12-12 16:52

    This book took me by surprise. I picked it up at Dollar Tree to have a book to read on a long flight. I really liked the novel's structure and using Berlioz' "Symphonie Fantastique" as backdrop and inspiration. I'm familiar with Berlioz' music but I knew nothing about him as a person. I have to assume the story has some basis in fact. I liked that the main characters were flawed. It made the story that much more human.

  • Spitz
    2018-11-16 18:55

    This is Jude Morgan's best book. It's about the composer Hector Berlioz and the woman he married, the actress Harriet Smithson. Both characters are very interesting and the facts about them seem to be absolutely accurate. Another sad commentary on the price women pay when they get involved with great artists.

  • Karen
    2018-12-05 15:43

    I like Jude Morgan. This one was a little too long and didn't wind up in a satisfying way for me, but I enjoyed reading it. I loved the character of Harriet and all the stuff about theater. Weirdly, for something that's packaged to look so romantic, I felt that the author's interest in the book (and thus mine) declined a good deal after the main characters finally got together.

  • Apple Austria
    2018-11-25 19:50

    despite the dragging start which slowed down my reading metabolism.. i can say i enjoyed the book.. thanks to its mad characters.. this book slowly drove me mad while the hector and harriet are driving each other mad.. if there's one word to describe this book.. the story.. the main characters.. the experience.. it's MAD..

  • Shirley
    2018-12-06 14:56

    Lusciously written in the classic Victorian style - a story that you can't decide you like until you end up being caught up in it and brought through to the bitter end.

  • Mimi
    2018-12-15 21:42

    The story about Hector Berlioz and Harriet Smithson, his muse for his "Symphonie Fantastique" What a hot mess that book was, it was completely stream of consciousness with rabbit trails everywhere. It felt like reading a bad dream, but every time I nearly abandoned it, there'd be this brilliant bit of prose that kept me engaged. I did struggle to the end, but I wouldn't recommend it.

  • Caitlin Batstone
    2018-11-28 16:40

    I loved this. The last 70 pages or so really affected me, made me pretty morose. Which isn't pleasant necessarily, but it's what really happened, and it's the mark of excellent writing. I particularly adored the two interludes, where the book reads in second person and the reader is having a conversation with Chopin and then Mendelssohn. I'm such a dork.

  • Barbara Cackler
    2018-11-22 22:02

    This was a great book - particularly if one is interested in classical music and knows a bit about 19th Century European music. It is a fun bit of historical fiction spun around French composer Hector Berlioz and his romance and subsequent marriage to Irish actress Harriett Smithson. It was a good read.

  • BarbC
    2018-12-08 17:03

    Harder to get through than the first two, but love this author. The world around me ceases to exist when I am reading his words. Love.

  • VMom
    2018-12-08 21:46

    The love story of composer Hector Berlioz & his muse actress Harriet Smithson. Too gloomy and ill-fated for me -- I skipped the middle and read the last chapter.

  • Almae
    2018-11-18 20:05

    Serious downer. Interesting though.

  • Laurie
    2018-11-23 19:53

    this was really beautiful and sad. i love jude morgan.

  • Urszula
    2018-11-29 18:50

    Could not get into this book at all. Not sure if it was the style or the language.

  • Kathy
    2018-12-11 14:52

    Historical fiction. Interesting but, again, a depressing end.

  • Rachel
    2018-11-29 21:08

    Judge Morgan has two different speeds: 1) Jane Austen 2) dark and creepy. I need to start figuring out which type the book is before I bother to start it.

  • Barbara
    2018-12-14 17:43

    Sorry Mr. Morgan I did not like this one. I felt that the writing style was too pedantic for me and I could not get interested in the characters.