The Melody

Jim Crace

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08 February 2018
493 pages


'The Melody takes its place among his finest [novels] . . . an ecological fable for modern times' Guardian
'Seductively atmospheric . . . deeply moving' Daily Mail
'Brilliant' Observer

Alfred Busi, famed in his town for his music and songs, is mourning the recent death of his wife and quietly living out his days in the large villa he has always called home. Then one night Busi is attacked by a creature he disturbs as it raids the contents of his larder. Busi is convinced that what assaulted him was no animal, but a child, ‘innocent and wild’, and his words fan the flames of old rumour – of an ancient race of people living in the bosk surrounding the town – and new controversy: the town’s paupers, the feral wastrels at its edges, must be dealt with. Once and for all.

Lyrical and warm, intimate and epic, The Melody by Jim Crace tracks the few days that will see Busi and the town he loves altered irrevocably. This is a story about grief and ageing, about reputation and the loss of it, about love and music and the peculiar way myth seeps into real life. And it is a political novel too – a rallying cry to protect those we persecute.

Strange, unsettling, brilliant - everything you'd expect from one of our most original and inventive novelists


This could have been a straightforward political allegory about man's inhumanity to man . . . but Crace's seductively atmospheric novel, suffused as it is with archetypes and the stuff of dreams, is much richer, slyer and more mysterious. It's an elegy, too - for lost love, youth and talent - and deeply moving

Daily Mail

The Melody takes its place among his finest [novels] . . . grippingly symbolic and intensely real . . . an ecological fable for modern times