The Song Collector by Natasha Solomons
Published: 24th March 2016
Available in Hardback, Paperback and on Kindle
After his beloved wife's death, the composer Harry Fox-Talbot is unable to write a single note, until the day he discovers his troublesome young grandson is a piano prodigy.
As the music returns, Fox is compelled to re-engage with life - and, ultimately, to confront an old and bitter rift. One with its roots in 1946, when he gave up his dreams of a musical career to help save the family home from ruin; and when he fell for his brother's girlfriend, the celebrated wartime singer, Edie Rose.
This is the entrancing tale of a man whose passion for music, an elusive women and the English landscapes of his youth are inextricably intertwined. A man who finds joy in the wake of grief, and learns its never too late to seek forgiveness.
The Song Collector is the first novel I have read by Natasha Solomons but I’m sure it won’t be my last, her writing is of that style that just makes you want to keep reading and become totally lost in the story.
The story focuses on Harry Fox-Talbot, the youngest of three Fox-Talbot brothers and affectionately known as “Fox” among family and friends. They story spans two time periods 1946 – 1959 and 2001 – 2007. In the earlier set chapters we meet Fox in his twenties returning home to his beloved Hartgrove Hall after the war. Left in a dire state by the war officials the Fox-Talbot brothers agree to bring Hartgrove back to its former glory and Fox has to give up his beloved music career. All goes well until the eve of 1947 when brother Jack brings home Edie Rose, a wartime singer. Fox falls instantly in love with her. He spends the next few years being tormented by his two great loves music and Edie.
Fast-forward almost fifty years and composer Fox is grieving for his beloved Edie and is unable to play a single note. That is until he spends some time with grandson Robin who slowly brings the music back into the rooms of Hartgrove and finally help him to ease the guilt he’s felt for so long.
I’m a huge fan of novels with a dual time-spans, done well they can make the best kind of story and Natasha Solomons has managed to do this beautifully. I felt each section of the story flowed seamlessly into the next, despite the time difference making this a beautiful novel to read. It’s one of those books that you start off reading and soon find you’re totally engrossed and when it ends your sad because you’re not quite ready to let it go. This is exactly how this book made me feel, especially the last couple of chapters which really tugged at my heart.
Throughout the novel Fox comes across as a much tormented soul. He has three great loves in his life Edie, the English countryside of his home and his music, without all of them he never seems fully complete. After Edie is gone he seems lost as she was the only one that really understood his love of music and his need to collect the old folk songs of the countryside. When he sees Robin shares his love of music he slowly begins to find joy in his life once more.
This is a lovely enchanting novel about all aspects of love, about dealing with loss and betrayal and above all learning to embrace the music which is all around us. It’s a beautiful novel which was a joy to read, so thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy to review. I give The Song Collector a rating of 4 out 5.
Since writing The Song Collector Natasha Solomons has begun her own song collecting project to map as many songs of Britain as she can. To find out more about this inspiring project visit www.songmap.co.uk