Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Orpheus Lost | Janette Turner Hospital

Yet another fantastic novel by Turner Hospital. Based on how much I enjoyed The Claimant, I read this book. She sure can tell a good story!

Orpheus Lost is a melting pot where music, maths, modern day terrorism, identity and love all melt into one wonderful narrative. It centres around Mishka and Leela, who find each other in New York and who are torn apart by music, math and their identities. Leela is from the Deep South of America, brought up on a strange mix of fervent Christian beliefs which centred around finding meaning and guidance in Biblical numerology. Her mother dies young, and her father clings to religious fervour so as not to lose his way.
Leela rebells agains all that and moves away to the Yankee North and is seen as a traitor to her family heritage. Her passion is numbers and especially the math of music. She is in postgrad work and loves the calmness she attains by enveloping herself in these two areas.

Mishka is a lost soul. He grew up in Australia, brought up by loving grandparents and a solo mum. Not much is known about his father, who was Lebanese. He is immersed into the Jewish traditions his family clings to so as to make sense of the devastation they suffered in the Holocaust. Mishka's mother is a botanical illustrator who came back to the Northern Queensland landscape to have Mishkah and live in the treetop house her parents built.

In New York, Mishka discovers his Lebanese self through the study of the oud. As he composes for the violin and oud, both parts of his heritage come together and recreate a sense of who he is. Then he is drawn into a group who meets at the local mosque...

Things start to unravel for all the characters. The narrative is gripping and draws the reader into the inevitable chaos and conclusion of the story.

Extremely well told, well crafter. I will seek out more of Turner Hospital's novels.

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