Frog Music

Emma Donoghue's novel is set in 19th-century San Francisco, where a burlesque dancer's good friend is murdered.

Emma Donoghue

San Francisco, 1876: a stifling heat wave and a smallpox epidemic have engulfed the city. Deep in the streets of Chinatown live three former stars of the Parisian circus: Blanche, now an exotic dancer at the House of Mirrors, her love, Arthur, and his companion Ernest. When an eccentric outsider joins their little circle, secrets unravel, changing everything-and leaving one of them dead. Inspired by true events, Frog Music is an evocative novel of intrigue and murder; elegant, erotic and witty. (From HarperCollins)

From the book

Sitting on the edge of the bed in the front room, Blanche stoops to rip at the laces of her gaiters. " 'Dors, min p'tit quinquin—' " Her husky voice frays to a thread on the second high note. She clears her throat, rasping away the heat.

A train hurtles north from San Jose. The light from the locomotive's headlamp jabs through the long gap between the peeling window frame and the green blind, illuminating the room for Blanche: the shabby bureau, the bedstead, and Jenny, lolling against the scarred headboard. The Eight Mile House shakes like cardboard as the freight cars rattle by. Here at San Miguel Station, they're right at the southern boundary — the last gasp — of San Francisco.

From Frog Music by Emma Donoghue © 2014. Published by HarperCollins Canada.

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