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'A stand-out triumph' - Sunday Times
The spectacular new novel from the bestselling author of CLOUD ATLAS and THE BONE CLOCKS, 'one of the most brilliantly inventive writers of this, or any country' (Independent).
Utopia Avenue might be the most curious British band you've never heard of.
Emerging from London's psychedelic scene in 1967, folksinger Elf Holloway, blues bassist Dean Moss, guitar virtuoso Jasper de Zoet and jazz drummer Griff Griffin together created a unique sound, with lyrics that captured their turbulent times. The band produced only two albums in two years, yet their musical legacy lives on.
This is the story of Utopia Avenue's brief, blazing journey from Soho clubs and draughty ballrooms to the promised land of America, just when the Summer of Love was receding into something much darker - a multi-faceted tale of dreams, drugs, love, sexuality, madness and grief; of stardom's wobbly ladder and fame's Faustian pact; and of the collision between youthful idealism and jaded reality as the Sixties drew to a close.
Above all, this bewitching novel celebrates the power of music to connect across divides, define an era and thrill the soul.
'The great rock and roll novel - an epic love letter to the greatest music ever made and the book the music has always deserved' Tony Parsons
Mitchell's magical, much anticipated latest (after Slade House) is a rollicking, rapturous tale of 1960s rock 'n' roll. Utopia Avenue emerges from the London music scene as a ragtag band of four unforgettable characters, assembled by manager Levon Frankland as a "psychedelic-folk-rock" supergroup. There's Jasper de Zoet, the dark and enigmatic lead guitarist; Elf Holloway, the ethereal songstress on keyboards; Griff Griffin, the gruff but lovable drummer; and Dean Moss, heartthrob bassist and lead singer. Dean, who escaped poverty and his abusive father, turns to music as his outlet of expression. De Zoet seeks a dangerous escape from his schizophrenia in a mystical "psychosurgery" treatment. Meanwhile, Griff, a "drummer-of-many-parts" according to the Village Voice ("Sounds as if my arms and legs unscrew," Griff says), is the glue that keeps them together, and Elf circuitously navigates her sexuality and eventually finds a surprising new love. From dingy nightclubs to the Chelsea Hotel and room service in California, and cameos from Janis Joplin, Jerry Garcia, and members of the Rolling Stones, Mitchell follows the band's sex- and drug-fueled rise to fame in 1968 and the group's abrupt, heartbreaking end. Each chapter name is the title of a song and focuses on one of the main characters in the band, and Mitchell unspools at least a dozen original song lyrics and descriptions of performances that are just as fiery and infectious as his narratives. Mitchell makes the best use of his familiar elements, from recurring characters to an innovative narrative structure, delivering more fun, more mischief, and more heart than ever before. This is Mitchell at his best.