Book Review of The Melody

This novel by Jim Crace was a little confusing to me.

The blurb was a little misleading – dramatising elements of the narrative that were arguably not central to what I felt was the emotional core.

The main character is an ageing singer, widowed and grieving, clinging to his home town  and his ageing property that holds to many wonderful memories of his wife.  But his grief is blinding him to the issues of the community that surrounds him – the push to modernise and create luxury waterfront apartments exactly where Busi lives, a plan spearheaded by his nephew and heir.  A shocking attack in the middle of the night – where Busi believes he finds a young boy in his pantry – leads him to consider the plight of those living in the poorer end of town.

Busi’s attack – although not believed by any around him as perpetrated by a child – allows a platform for factions in the community to pursue their own aims.  An attention-seeking and ruthless journalist suggests that the attack occurred by remnants of mythical neanderthal humans hovering on the edge of town, whereas the developers use it to scare the populace into accepting drastic measures to ensure their safety.

Neither storyline, Busi’s grief nor the power struggle in the town, are entirely done justice here.  I’d like to have seen one or the other reach a more dramatic conclusion.

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