Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue
 Little, Brown and Company, 2014
 416 pages, 

Donoghue flawlessly combines literary eloquence and vigorous plotting in her first full-fledged mystery, a work as original and multifaceted as its young murder victim. During the scorching summer of 1876, Jenny Bonnet, an enigmatic cross-dressing bicyclist who traps frogs for San Francisco’s restaurants, meets her death in a railroad saloon on the city’s outskirts. Exotic dancer Blanche Beunon, a French immigrant living in Chinatown, thinks she knows who shot her friend and why, but has no leverage to prove it and doesn’t know if she herself was the intended target. A compulsive pleasure-seeker estranged from her “fancy man,” Blanche searches desperately for her missing son while pursuing justice for Jenny, but finds her two goals sit in conflict. In language spiced with musical interludes and raunchy French slang, Donoghue brings to teeming life the nasty, naughty side of this ethnically diverse metropolis, with its brothels, gaming halls, smallpox-infested boardinghouses, and rampant child abuse. Most of her seedy, damaged characters really lived, and she not only posits a clever solution to a historical crime that was never adequately solved but also crafts around Blanche and Jenny an engrossing and suspenseful tale about moral growth, unlikely friendship, and breaking free from the past. --Sarah Johnson (Booklist)

My Thoughts:  Once in I while, I think about living in the "Old Days" and then after reading books like Frog Music,
 I remember why I really would not like to live in the olden days.  The story takes place in 1876 San Francisco and show the very underbelly of life in the city of that time.   This was a time of segregation, corruption, and just plain meanness.  Women were very much lower class citizens, the Chinese immigrant was despised, and the law enforcement turned a blinded eye to much of the corruption in all segments of society.  The murder was real and the story wove around the murder makes one glad that things have changed from those dark ages of American history.  

This was not my favorite book because of the darkness and hopelessness of the situations presented but I would recommend it to get a feel for the life in a city in the 1800's for the poor and immigrant.

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