I'll get to the book, but here's our patio squirrel Fluffy. She came to us with half the fur on her back missing, so we called her Scruffy. Now that it's grown back, we call her Fluffy, or Fluffernutter. We feed her nuts, shelled hazelnuts being her favorite. She takes two from our fingers, never biting, sometimes using her paws to steady our hands. Sometimes she helps herself to nuts left on the table.
When it's hot, like it is today (98F), there's nothing better for a little squirrel than to sprawl on the cool metal pipe or the shady flagstones of the patio. We have a pie plate of water our for her and the birds. This is the city, a dangerous place for a squirrel. I know someday she won't come back, and we won't know what happened to her. Until then, we're good friends.
Now, on to The Travelling Hornplayer. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I discovered Barbara Trapido late. If you haven't read her books yet, get going! I'm so impressed by her writing and her characters and their stories. They're strange but familiar.
The Travelling Hornplayer weaves together the stories of the Goldman brothers, Roger and Jonathan and their families, people we met in Brother of the More Famous Jack. Separate events and different people tie them and their families together, but they don't realize that at first.
Jonathan and Katherine have a daughter called Stella. She is challenged, as we say today, in many ways. Her mother devotes herself to trying to help Stella read and do the things other children her age do. Stella is dyslexic, but she is a wonderful singer, cellist, and a brilliant and intelligent conversationalist.
There's Izzy, a student artist. Unkempt but brilliant. Stella gives him her heart and he breaks it. There are ramifications, serious ones.
The book is lightness and dark. Parts are laugh out loud funny, others are sad. There are some detailed sex scenes and adult conversations and language. I hope that won't put you off.
The last few pages are like The Old Woman and Her Pig, if you're familiar with that folktale. They knit up the loose pieces as Jonathan finally understands why Lydia Dent ran into the street and was killed by a car.
It's hard to write about this book because so many unforeseen and startling things happen. I don't want to ruin the surprises for anyone. I highly recommend The Travelling Hornplayer and Barbara Trapido's other novels, some of which I haven't read yet. I'm sure they'll be good, too, though.