Frog Music

A Novel

Donoghue, Emma

(Book - 2014)
Average Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
Frog Music
"Emma Donoghue's explosive new novel, based on an unsolved murder in 1876 San Francisco. Summer of 1876: San Francisco is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heatwave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman called 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"--
Publisher: New York :, Little, Brown and Company,, 2014.
Edition: First Edition.
ISBN: 0316371459
Characteristics: 405 pages ;,25 cm


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Jan 21, 2015
  • LPL_ShirleyB rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Donoghue focuses on the true story of a 19th century cross-dressing frog catcher.

Jan 17, 2015
  • gerimark rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

set in SF. Parisian burlesque dancer and free-spirited friend who winds up dead. smallpox/heatwave factor in.

Nov 30, 2014
  • libraryrachelf rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Frog Music was an interesting and engaging story, based on historical events. Emma Donoghue writes the story of 2 woman who become friends in the late 1870's in San Francisco. The women are both fascinating characters who are based on well researched historical records. Donoghue does an amazing job to bring Blanche Beunon and Jenny Bonnet to life. The book is also rich in the history of the heat wave and smallpox epidemic that held the city during the this time. The book also incorporated popular folk music of the time adding to the history of the book. Frog music was both a good read of a still unsolved murder, as well as a glimpse into the history of San Francisco and some of the people who inhabited the nouveaux city.

Oct 19, 2014
  • 671books rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

Meh. I thought this book was ok, but the writing style was difficult and choppy. I felt there was no flow to the story.

Full review here: http://671books.net/fiction/frog-music/

Sep 06, 2014
  • Roxannigan rated this: 1.5 stars out of 5.

Amateurish and superficially written. Too bad, could have been an interestingly told tale

Found it a little tedious and hard to keep reading as it wasn't really engaging though by the time you get to the last 20 pages of the book, everything picks up...that is, if you can bear the first three quarters of the book! Jenny's character is very interesting though you don't find that out unless you keep on reading!

It’s the 1870's in San Francisco, a small pox epidemic and heat wave are the backdrop around the lives of two rather unconventional and very independent women. Not surprisingly, women of the day had few options – our heroines have a lot of pluck, though one of them not so much luck. A gritty murder mystery filled with historic detail that will appeal to readers of women’s fiction as well as historical fiction buffs.

Jul 11, 2014
  • marinka rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

Such a tedious read I gave up half way through - page after page seemed to comprise of dull, endless filler. I didn't care about the characters and the inane decisions they made. Blanche strikes me as a cliche and not a bright one at that. Unfortunate because I enjoyed Room and Slammerkin

Jul 10, 2014
  • yvox rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I enjoyed Room so much and its images remain in my mind still. Probably it was that same writing skill which made Frog Music so difficult for me to stick with in some parts. Some of the passages describing sexual activity made me mad, though I later learned that this character actually enjoyed stimulation of all her orifices; some passages describing the little baby made me cringe and cry, though I love babies and happily tolerate all the messiness of caring for them; and passages that flipped-flopped between then and the now of two days, three days, an afternoon, a week later strained my wish to figure out what was going on and the answer to the who-dun-it mystery.

Still, by the end of Frog Music I was glad to have read it, though she took me to the last 20 pages before I was sure of that. After page Fin, I stayed to read about the historical characters who seeded this fiction from Emma Donoghue, and I read about the music of the period found throughout this story. The appendix of translations of French phrases woven through the novel I had already found and used as I read and which I felt would have been more useful in alphabetical order rather than ordered chronologically by appearance in the tale.

A quick synopsis: Blanche and Jenny become friends. Jenny is shot dead. Blanche has reason to believe she was the target of the shooting and wants to prove the murderers guilty. But Blanche has a child who has been kidnapped from her and whom she wants to find more than she wants the murderers. But the murderers and kidnappers are the same! If she gets them convicted of murder, then she'll probably not learn where her baby is. And perhaps they have horribly killed her baby already in this smallpox-, violence-ridden San Francisco of 1876. Our heroine loses her job, her home, her money and her reputation; she suffers more perils than does the proverbial Pauline. Will she conquer all, will she end victorious and validated? Only you can tell, dear reader, and don't go peeking at the ending beforetimes for you don't want to miss this beautifully crafted book.

Jun 13, 2014
  • jeanie123 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

A very interesting but sad story. I found the flipping back and forth between the days before and after the murder a bit confusing. It is employed as a method to trickle out the facts and events, but I find that style kind of annoying. I kept wondering if I had already read and forgotten the facts of certain events only to have them revealed much later on. I was particularly disappointed with one stereotypical scene between Jenny and Blanche which I feel would have been best left for the reader to wonder about. I enjoyed Jenny's uniqness but I felt this was graphic and ugly, and out of character. I can't really elaborate more without a spoiler.

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Jul 10, 2014
  • PrairieStar rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Listened to the downloadable MP3 and had a hard time putting it down. The jumping back and forth in time got a bit old, especially when it was just a rehash of information covered previously.

A gilded age prostitute has a relationship with a gentleman of the night. A typhoid epidemic hits San Francisco. The book is rich in period details. The appendix also has much helpful information.


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app09 Version jokkmokk2 Last updated 2015/01/29 17:28