Frog Music: A Novel
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From the author of the worldwide bestseller Room: "Her greatest achievement yet...Emma Donoghue shows more than range with FROG MUSIC--she shows genius." -- Darin Strauss, author of Half a Life
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.
more liquor. Jenny’s in rare form. She insists on buying the hack from Marshall’s and John Jr.’s pony each a bag of oats for a treat, because you never know, it might be one of their birthdays. It’s all quiet now. The saloon’s empty and the McNamaras have settled down in their back room. Blanche and Jenny are sprawled on the bed drinking cognac by the light of a single candle. Jenny’s shed her jacket and waistcoat, for once, and Blanche is down to chemise and petticoat but she’s still too hot.
always lacked judgment when it comes to carnal matters, my dear,” says Madame. “I really fear for you. If you follow your sentimental heart and take on another handsome parasite, the pair of you may starve by Christmas.” “I loved Arthur.” The words explode from Blanche. “Yes,” says Madame. “It’s the downfall of this profession. Really, love—one might as well put a blade in the other party’s hands and guide it home.” She mimes the cut along her throat. “You talk like someone who’s never been
double paix-paroli, masque, sept-et-le-va: faro jargon que ça pue: what a stink va te faire foutre: go fuck yourself bon voyage: have a good trip jamais de fumée sans feu: there’s no smoke without fire fille de joie: (literally, “joy girl”) prostitute Mardi i’ r’viendra m’ voire, / O gai! vive la rose; / Mais je n’en voudrai pas, / Vive la rose et le lilas! He’ll come back to see me on Tuesday, / Hey, long live the rose; / But I won’t want him back / Long live the rose and the lilac!
English. The carpet is primly patterned with lozenges—so unlike the red-tufted extravaganza in the Grand Saloon upstairs. Blanche can hear the Professor there now, practicing a crowd-pleaser at top speed, with too much pedal. The proprietor sits at her desk, in ashy silk as always, with colorless hair as sleek as plaster; she could be any age at all. Madame holds up one finger to make Blanche wait. “‘Reduced rates for parties from out of town,’” she murmurs, finishing her copperplate-script
remarks Jenny, “the way others like a drink.” “Oh, Maman liked that too,” says Blanche under her breath as she heads up the stairs. She thinks of her bedbound grandmother who shared Blanche’s mattress and taught her all the old songs sotto voce, mouth to ear. “You can leave your darling machine down here,” she throws over her shoulder. “Won’t the landlord object?” “That would be me,” says Blanche, smiling in the dark. “Huh,” says Jenny behind her. It still sounds incongruous to Blanche. She