The Courage Consort, possibly the seventh best-known a cappella vocal ensemble in Britain, are given two weeks in a Belgian chateau to rehearse their latest commission, the monstrously complicated Partitum Mutante.
But can the piece be performed? Does it matter that its composer is a maniac best known for attacking his wife with a stiletto shoe at the baggage reclaim of Milan airport? Can the five members of the Consort endure their own sexual tensions and wildly differing temperaments? And what is the inhuman voice that calls out to them from the woods at night?
The esoteric world of avant-garde classical music is the unlikely setting for a story of rare power -
perhaps the most moving Michel Faber has yet written.
“Faber has a quirky imagination and a sharp eye, is clever but sympathetic to the reader, generous and sincere.”
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“This is a beautifully distilled piece of work. Its brevity cannot disguise its depth, indeed it emphasises it… The story is told with a dry wit that should carry a warning for the reader not to strike a match anywhere in the book’s vicinity. This is a beautifully-assured novella.”
“Rites of passage don’t come much subtler than this. Or, oddly, given the subject matter, much funnier.”
“His prose veers sharply from a delectable descriptiveness to spikily comic insights. Cerebral and observant … here is a talent in the ascendant.”
MICHEL FABER has written seven other books, including the highly acclaimed The Crimson Petal and the White, The Fahrenheit Twins and the Whitbread-shortlisted novel Under the Skin. The Apple, based on characters in The Crimson Petal and the White, was published in 2006. He has also written two novellas, The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps (2001) and The Courage Consort (2002), and has won several short-story awards, including the Neil Gunn, Ian St James and Macallan. Born in Holland, brought up in Australia, he now lives in the UK.