Frog Music

A Novel
By Emma Donoghue (Hardcover Book, 2014)
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.

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.

Born in Dublin in 1969, Emma Donoghue is an Irish emigrant twice over: she spent eight years in Cambridge doing a PhD in eighteenth-century literature before moving to London, Ontario, where she lives with her partner and their two children. She also migrates between genres, writing literary history, biography, stage and radio plays as well as fairy tales and short stories. She is best known for her novels, which range from the historical (Slammerkin, Life Mask, Landing, The Sealed Letter) to the contemporary (Stir-Fry, Hood, Landing). Her international bestseller Room was a New York Times Best Book of 2010 and was a finalist for the Man Booker, Commonwealth, and Orange Prizes. For more information, visit www.emmadonoghue.com.

  • FROG MUSIC by Emma Donoghue

  • "A riveting literary thriller.... Donoghue brilliantly conjures the chaos of a boomtown in the grip of both a heat wave and a smallpox epidemic; her cast of colorful lowlifes includes the freeloading Arthur and his sycophantic best friend, Ernest. But it's Blanche and Jenny who hold our attention.... FROG MUSIC begins with a mystery: Who killed Jenny? But it enthralls with two other questions: Who was Jenny? Who will Blanche become?" (Karen Holt, O, The Oprah Magazine).

  • "FROG MUSIC...[brings] to steamy life the unresolved so-called San Miguel Mystery.... Donoghue front-loads the ­drama.... She captures San Francisco in all its ­melting-pot, fishy-smelling glory, and weaves in authentic ­details about smallpox outbreaks, race riots, and orphan­ages. ­Jenny Bonnet is an incendiary character pulled directly from the history books.... Her extraordinary life gives Donoghue's novel contemporary resonance." (Elyse Moody, Elle).

  • "More fine work from one of popular fiction's most talented practitioners.... Donoghue's vivid rendering of Gilded Age San Francisco is notable for her atmospheric use of popular songs and slang in Blanche's native French, but the book's emotional punch comes from its portrait of a woman growing into self-respect as she takes responsibility for the infant life she's created." (Kirkus Reviews).

  • "Emma Donoghue shows more than range with FROG MUSIC-she shows genius. Like and unlike her stunning ROOM, this novel lifts into view a strange crime, a remarkable woman, and is a Ringling Brothers-grade feat of narrative strength. As ever, Donoghue focuses on people on the skirts of the world, who make their way outside the common middle of things. Blanche and Jenny are characters you will never forget, filmed in vibrant, cinemascope prose, and they mark Emma Donoghue's greatest achievement yet." (Darin Strauss, author of Half a Life).

  • "Donoghue's first literary crime novel is a departure from her bestselling Room, but it's just as dark and just as gripping as the latter.... Aside from the obvious whodunit factor, the book is filled with period song lyrics and other historic details, expertly researched and flushed out.... Donoghue's signature talent for setting tone and mood elevates the book from common cliffhanger to a true chef d'oeuvre." (Gabe Habash, Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)).

  • "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.... An engrossing and suspenseful tale about moral growth, unlikely friendship, and breaking free from the past." (Sarah Johnson, Booklist (Starred Review)).

  • "Donoghue's evocative language invades the senses.... Readers won't quickly forget this rollicking, fast-paced novel, which is based on a true story and displays fine bits of humor with underlying themes of female autonomy and the right to own one's sexual identity." (Library Journal (Starred Review)).

  • "FROG MUSIC...is very, very good. Not in the same scared-to-turn-the-page way as Room, but equally as deep, thought-provoking, and complex." (Liz French, Library Journal).

  • "Donoghue proves herself endlessly inventive....[She] nails both the period details and the atmosphere-think sweltering heat waves, dumping grounds for unwanted babies, and smallpox epidemics. This is the kind of book that will keep you up at night and make you smarter." (Julie Buntin, Cosmopolitan).

  • "A riveting murder mystery.... Fans of Emma Donoghue's previous book Room...will be shocked yet delighted by the change of pace in her new novel." (Nathan Rostron, Bookish ).

  • "Fans of Donoghue's Room should be thrilled at the arrival of FROG MUSIC." (San Diego Magazine).

  • "[An] offbeat, high-minded whodunit from the award-winning author of Room." (Adam Rathe, DuJour).

  • "A historical narrative set in San Francisco in 1876.... [that] provides further proof that Ms. Donoghue is an unusually versatile writer." (New York Observer).

  • "The Room author's latest novel, about a woman solving her friend's murder in 1876 San Fran, sucks you in." (Megan Angelo, Glamour).

  • "Research and invention together mark FROG MUSIC with the ring of truth and salvage a fascinating story from the ether of history." (Ellen Wernecke, A.V. Club).

  • "Like Room...Donoghue here displays an uncanny knack for telling an off-putting story in such a way that you can't stop reading it, that you fall a little bit in love with the characters and the moment in time she's creating." (Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times ).

  • "Unmissable-a novel bound to be one of the most talked about of the year." (Daniel Lefferts, Bookish).

  • "Donoghue...devises an ingeniously plotted revision to the official story of why Jenny died-true to her sustained, career-long effort to read history slant and thereby set the record straight." (Mike Fischer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).

  • "It's in the tentative moments of love between Blanche and P'tit that FROG MUSIC is at its best-heartfelt, affecting, and real. Donoghue is so gifted at depicting the fraught blessings of motherhood." (Charles Finch, Chicago Tribune).

  • "With rich, well-researched details, Donoghue evokes a multicultural, rough-and-tumble San Francisco." (USAToday).

  • "A vivid narrative equipped with love, lust, and violence, questionable morals, period folk tunes, an eclectic band of characters, and a quest for justice." (Morgan Ribera, Bustle).

  • "Donoghue's book captures the details of San Francisco through meticulous research. The city is a character itself." (Tony DuShane, San Francisco Chronicle).

  • "Though Donoghue poses the book as a mystery - who killed Jenny Bonnet? - it's equally a celebration of love despite hardships galore, and the rising call of motherhood against near impossible odds." (Alan Cheuse, NPR).

  • "Donoghue masterfully transports readers to an era of dung-covered cobbled roads, unspeakably cruel baby farms, deep suspicion of Chinese immigrants and unruly saloons." (Rasha Madkour, The Associated Press).

  • "Donoghue's latest novel has many facets, all of them fascinating....Colorful French slang and period songs...flow through the novel lyrically, making the era as vital as the plot....[A] vibrant novel." (Connie Ogle, Miami Herald).

  • "A dazzling historical crime drama." (San Francisco Chronicle).

Product Details

Frog Music
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Price: $27.00 US
  • Pages: 416
  • Physical Dimensions: 6" x 9-1/4"
  • ISBN-13: 9780316324687
  • On Sale Date: 04/01/2014
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