Written By: Emma Donoghue
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Published By: Little Brown and Company April 1, 2014
Length: 12 hours and 47 minutes/ 417 pages
Source: Purchased from Audible/ARC from publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Summer of 1876: San Francisco is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heat wave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman named 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.
My Thoughts: A look into a period of history where women had very little respect or opportunities to be independent. Blanche and Jenny are women who don’t fit the accepted model of a woman. Blanche is a dancer, erotic and sexual. She is also a prostitute and mother. The father of her child and man who controls her is unhappy she is going against her wishes
Jenny dresses like a man, and catches frogs for the local French restaurants. She is quite the unique person, but she is also a sincere and true friend to Blanche. The unlikely friendship there two share allows them each to open up and strive to become their best person. Blanche is determined to reclaim her infant son, no matter the risk. When Jenny is murdered, Blanche is certain the bullet was meant for her, and she searches for the truth.
I wanted so much to love this story, but it wasn’t to be. The story is told with Blanche recalling her time with Jenny and the events after the shooting. There isn’t smooth transition between the time lines, jumping from one to the other. There are many French words and phrases, and while in print there is a glossary, it doesn’t help the flow of the story. In audio it is lovely, but not understood.
The narration by Khristine Hvam is one of the best features of this audiobook. She has the accents and pacing that helped me want to continue with this book. So versatile, I adore her work.
Emma Donoghue is is a brilliant author, and I think this book’s characters were interesting, and the story intriguing, but the telling of it was not a win for me. I liked it, but I would only recommend it with some reservations.