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The Courage Consort


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About the Author

MICHEL FABER has written seven other books, including the highly acclaimed The Crimson Petal and the White, The Fahrenheit Twins and the Whitbread-shortlisted novel Under the Skin. The Apple, based on characters in The Crimson Petal and the White, was published in 2006. He has also written two novellas, The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps (2001) and The Courage Consort (2002), and has won several short-story awards, including the Neil Gunn, Ian St James and Macallan. Born in Holland, brought up in Australia, he now lives in the Scottish Highlands.


Following up his popular The Crimson Petal and the White, Faber offers three novellas each as fully developed as a large-scale work. In the title story, a British-based vocal group gathers at a chateau in Belgium to rehearse a particularly difficult contemporary piece. Little tensions make themselves evident as group director Roger Courage blithely steamrolls everyone in sight. In the end, real tragedy befalls the gentle-as-a-lamb bass, and glorious music, which had been pulling the group apart, suddenly reunites them. In "The Hundred Ninety-Nine Steps," Si?n, who works as an archaeologist at the Whitby Abbey dig, helps a callow young man recover a manuscript sealed in a glass bottle. Describing what seems to be a father's chilling murder of his daughter, the manuscript delivers a powerful and surprising twist at the end that redeems Si?n's moral arguments throughout. "The Fahrenheit Twins" takes place in a world of its own, telling the chilling tale of siblings raised in the Far North by oblivious parents. Each of these breathtaking gems is astonishingly assured. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 7/04, and "Fall Editors' Picks," p. 40-44. Ed.] Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

The loss of innocence, the urgency of sexual need and the persistence of inner demons unite these three fine novellas, further evidence of the wide-ranging imagination, ironic humor and incisive characterization Faber displayed in The Crimson Petal and the White. Si?n, in "The 199 Steps," is working on an archeological dig in England when she encounters Mack, a gorgeous fitness buff. As Si?n and Mack try to decipher the clues to a 1788 murder, Si?n's dreams of a handsome man slitting her throat grow in intensity, paralleling the grisly facts she brings to light. The denouement is surprising and satisfying for what does not happen. In "The Fahrenheit Twins," Tainto'lilith and Marko'cain are pre-adolescent twin brother and sister living in the Arctic tundra with their eccentric parents, both anthropological researchers. When their mother dies, their father encourages them to voyage alone into the wilderness with her body tied to a sled. Catherine Courage, of the title story, is the soprano member of an avant-garde musical ensemble that has gathered in a Belgian chateau to rehearse a fiendishly difficult piece. Suffering through a July heat wave, Catherine is driven to desperation by an eerie cry she hears in the night. A tragedy, however, provides the reality shock she needs. While this is a slighter effort than Faber's previous work, readers will again be immersed in the intense worlds he creates. Agent, Jamie Byng. (Nov. 4) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

* Faber has a quirky imagination and a sharp eye, is clever but sympathetic to the reader, generous and sincere. The Independent * This is a beautifully distilled piece of work. Its brevity cannot disguise its depth, indeed it emphasises it... The story is told with a dry wit that should carry a warning for the reader not to strike a match anywhere in the book's vicinity. This is a beautifully-assured novella. -- Hugh MacDonald The Herald * Rites of passage don't come much subtler than this. Or, oddly, given the subject matter, much funnier. New Statesman * His prose veers sharply from a delectable descriptiveness to spikily comic insights. Cerebral and observant ... here is a talent in the ascendant. The Observer

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