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- Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd
- Format: Hardback | 224 pages
- Dimensions: 138mm x 218mm x 26mm | 358g
- Publication date: 10 July 2008
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 0224080857
- ISBN 13: 9780224080859
In 1837 an ailing Elizabeth Barrett is confined to bed, suffering debilitating illness. Longing for a return to health and mobility, she corresponds with friends, endures uncomfortable remedies, writes poetry and frets over her father and siblings. On the Barrett estate in Jamaica a Creole maidservant named Kaydia is struggling to save her child from the abusive attentions of the master. In the cane fields, indentured laborer and former slave Sheba mourns the loss of her lover. In this richly complex novel, Laura Fish recreates the worlds of three women whose lives are inextricably linked at a moment of crisis within the Barrett family.Moving from Torquay in Devon to Cinnamon Hill in Jamaica, "Strange Music" explores the notion that history consists of multiple, even contradictory versions. Kaydia and Sheba narrate their stories in a distinctive patois, with a depth of emotion and experience that is heart-rending. Like Jamaica, they struggle to escape a tragic past which seems ever-present. Elizabeth is geographically and emotionally distant, at once consumed with domestic minutiae and, as she matures as a writer, painfully aware of the source of her wealth and privilege. This hugely ambitious and rewarding story marks the return of a writer gifted with an unforgettable lyrical voice. As Elizabeth, Kaydia and Sheba struggle, each in her own way, towards emancipation, "Laura Fish" evokes the inescapable violence of slavery in prose that is immediate, consuming and ultimately redeeming.
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Laura Fish was born in London in 1964, of Caribbean parents. She has lived in Southern Africa and Australia, and has held posts as a Creative Writing tutor at various universities including the University of East Anglia, where she recently completed a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing. She holds the RCUK Academic Fellowship in Creative Writing at Newcastle University. Her first novel, Flight of Black Swans, was published in 1995.