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Rites of Spring
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At what point does a free spirit become a lost soul? This debut novel set in the music world beautifully captures the pressures and dangers of contemporary family life.

About the Author

Jessica Duchen was born in London and grew up with music and writing as twin passions. She has written for publications including The Independent and BBC Music Magazine and as music journalist has interviewed most of today's greatest musicians. Her books include biographies of the composers Gabriel Faure and Erich Wolfgang Korngold. As a pianist she plays in a duo with her violinist husband. They live in south-west London.

Reviews

'An imaginative novel... with themes of miscommunication, perfectionism and adolescence.' -- Eve 'Jessica Duchen's debut novel is captivating, imaginative and fascinating. As a musician and a mother, I recognized many of the scenarios and found the questions that were posed very poignant, both from a musical and personal perspective. The pace builds powerfully to a dramatic and ultimately very moving conclusion. Completely gripping!' -- Tasmin Little 'Adam and Sasha appear to have the perfect life - good jobs, a nice home, money and three perfect children. But as their marriage begins to unravel, their ballet-crazy daughter starts staving herself - and her parents are too preoccupied to notice. A haunting, heartbreaking novel.' -- Closer 'Liffy, the central character in Jessica Duchen's debut novel, is the teenage daughter of two career-driven parents living in an upmarket London suburb. As they struggle to make their former youthful ideals work amid the pressures of modern life, Liffy begins to shield herself mentally as her family decays around her by immersing herself in her passion - ballet. Rites of Spring draws on the image of a young girl dancing herself to death in Stravinsky's ballet to explore the impulse towards anorexia common in so many teenage girls today. Duchen paints a vivid and utterly bleak picture of modern family life, poignantly depicting Liffy's increased isolation as the people around her become so preoccupied and alienated from one another that one of the central characters, observing from a distance, wonders how people who are individually so bright, so intelligent, so nice, so creative, can collectively paper over all their problems. A sensitive and thought-provoking novel that will resona -- Femke Colborne, MUSO 'Jessica Duchen has crafted a riveting drama set within the arts world ... The neatly-composed plot charges to a climax as steadily as Ravel's Bolero, with Duchen capturing well the inner world of the pubescent girl and the London classical music scene. For fans of Joanna Trollope and Russian composers alike.' -- Classic FM Magazine 'In Jessica Duchen's novel, Sasha, a self-absorbed and self-righteous ex-dancer, is now the author of a social-commentary column and also appears on a TV arts-review show. Adam, who is a self-pitying, hard-left activist and former artist, works for an exploitative publisher. They have three children: rather repellent twin boys who reveal more likeable personalities away from their parents, and Liffy, who is an endearing 13-year old wannabe ballet-dancer who retreats into a fantasy inner-life that ultimately drags her into dangerous physical and psychological waters. Apart from three cats, most of the other characters are as unlikeable as Adam and Sasha, except for Sasha's cellist sister Lisa, whose low self-esteem and true heart makes her Liffy's only hope of understanding. As the family gradually begins to self-destruct and its members struggle towards self-realisation and a kind of redemption you'll either think 'there but for the grace of God' or, depending on your own background -- Barry Witherden, BBC Music Magazine, *****star review 'An imaginative novel ... with themes of miscommunication, perfectionism and adolescence.' -- Eve 'Jessica Duchen's debut novel is captivating, imaginative and fascinating. As a musician and a mother, I recognized many of the scenarios and found the questions that were posed very poignant, both from a musical and personal perspective. The pace builds powerfully to a dramatic and ultimately very moving conclusion. Completely gripping!' -- Tasmin Little 'Adam and Sasha appear to have the perfect life - good jobs, a nice home, money and three perfect children. But as their marriage begins to unravel, their ballet-crazy daughter starts staving herself - and her parents are too preoccupied to notice. A haunting, heartbreaking novel.' -- Closer 'A sensitive and thought-provoking novel that will resonate all the more for those with musical leanings.' -- Femke Colborne, MUSO 'Jessica Duchen has crafted a riveting drama set within the arts world ... The neatly-composed plot charges to a climax as steadily as Ravel's Bolero, with Duchen capturing well the inner world of the pubescent girl and the London classical music scene. For fans of Joanna Trollope and Russian composers alike.' -- Classic FM Magazine

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