Frog Music by Emma Donoghue

Frog Music by Emma DonoghueFrog Music by Emma Donoghue
Published by Little, Brown on 4/1/2014
Source: Publisher
Pages: 416
Buy from IndieBound

French burlesque dancer Blanche Beunon and her frog-catching friend Jenny Bonnet, notorious for wearing men’s clothing, might seem an unlikely pair. But their friendship is just the start of the wild events that take place in the summer of 1876, while San Francisco swelters under both a heatwave and an outbreak of the smallpox virus. 

Frog Music is based on a snippets from a real-life murder mystery, but the novel’s strength is in its characters. As she did in her last novel, the wildly popular Room, Donoghue writes with deep observation – not just of place, but of people in society. Blanche and Jenny are such vibrant characters that their complexities propel the story just as much as the murder being solved. 

“At San Miguel Station, the fifteenth of September stops and starts, stops and starts. Only when Blanche realizes she’s twisting her neck to get out of a puddle of light does she think: day. And then the terror seizes her again.”

The novel flashes back and forth rather quickly, which can feel jarring at times, often disrupting the flow of an otherwise brilliant novel. Still, what Emma Donoghue gives readers with Frog Music is proof that she is able to write just as beautifully in grand expanse as she can in a closed off room. 

  • ROOM was a hit or miss with me. I loved the writing and the cleverness and Donoghue’s astute observation of her characters, but I did not like the story itself. I do need to read more of her works though – she is definitely a good writer. Looks like this one will fit the bill.

  • I’ve been hearing so much about this book – it’s on my TBR list. Ever since The Wife, The Maid, and The Mistress, I’m a sucker for fiction based on true crime.

  • Ana @ things mean a lot

    I went to see her speak about this book last evening and now I’m dying to get my hands on it! Though to be honest I should probably get to her other historical novels, which have been on my tbr shelf for years, first :P

    • Oh, I would love to hear her talk about this, I bet it was wonderful! I still haven’t read any of her earlier novels, either, but I definitely want to after reading this one.

  • Can’t wait to read it! I also need to backtrack and read Astray.

  • Loved this book! Room is the only other Donoghue book I’ve read, but I sooo need to read more of her work! Great review!

  • Ti Reed

    I didn’t care for Room but I have this one on my list.

    • I think it would definitely be possible to enjoy this one even if you didn’t like Room, hope it works out for you!

  • Shannon, this book sounds fantastic! I hated Room, so I was a bit hesitant to read more by Donoghue, but after reading your post I am in for this one! Must definitely get my hands on a copy :) By the by, I linked your review over on Book Bloggers.

    • Thanks for linking! It’s a totally different story (plus, you don’t have the child narrator), so I think it’s definitely worth giving a shot.

      • That’s exactly why I disliked Room so much – the child narrator! I felt that using a child’s voice detracted from the mother’s own story and it just didn’t work for me. By the by, I’ve been meaning to mention that I really love the changes you made to your blog – it looks fantastic!

  • So many of us have read Frog Music lately :D I kinda dig when we’re all on the same page. (Ha ha ha for puns!) I’ve noticed the comments about Room on all of our posts. It seems that was a real love it or hate it type of book. (I loved it) What I dig the most about Donoghue is that each of her books are so different. You don’t find that a lot in the book world.

    • That’s definitely true, it seems like she’s very willing to try so many different things. I’m excited to dig back further in her backlist now, too.

  • Kim Ukura

    I’m among the few (it seems!) bloggers who haven’t read this one, but it sounds great! I love the cover, too. I just noticed that the images in the profile are frogs!

  • Jade Morriss

    I love Emma Donoghue’s writing – I say having read just two of her books, but wanting to read them all – she doesn’t put herself in a box in terms of content, which I really like, and by that I mean her novels are varied. I have read both Room and The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue, two vastly different works but both well told. I’m keen to read her latest offering.
    Bits & Bobs

  • I just requested this book from a publisher! I hope I get it. Your new blog design is very pretty!

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