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The night before brilliant but erratic composer Charles Jessold's opera - about a betrayed husband who murders his wife and her lover - is due to open, Jessold is found dead, having apparently murdered his wife and her lover.
Leslie Shepherd, music critic and Jessold's collaborator on the opera, reflects on the scandalous affair in a dazzling, passionate and witty novel about the dangerous relationship between artist and critic.
This intellectually provocative novel from Stace (the pseudonym of musician John Wesley Harding) brings to life the English music world of the first half of the 20th century. Early one June morning in 1923, gifted composer Charles Jessold, after the dress rehearsal of his first opera, Little Musgrave, kills his wife and her lover and commits suicide at his London home. The murders echo the plot of Jessold's years-in-the-making opera as well as the life and work of Carlo Gesualdo, a 16th-century Italian composer. Instead of revolutionalizing English music, Little Musgrave is canceled. Wealthy music critic Leslie Shepherd, who considered himself Jessold's mentor, wrote the opera's libretto, but his frustration over Jessold's procrastination and arrogance led to their estrangement. Twenty-two years later, Shepherd reveals startling new details that put a different, more chilling perspective on the tragedy. Stace (Misfortune) succinctly explores obsession and the relationship between art and life in this satisfying historical. Author tour.