‘A haunting, lyrical story of love, betrayal, and family secrets buried in the shifting landscape of memory’
‘The Devil’s Music’ by Jane Rusbridge is a haunting yet subtle story about a family whose secrets are never quite realised until the last few pages. The theme of memory is so poignant throughout that although initially you feel a bit confused as to the use of various knots and ropes…when you realise that people used to tie knots in handkerchiefs to remind them of things, it’s actually very clever.
The plot focuses around 3 different narratives, Andy (the protagonist) as a child, Andy as an adult in the present day and also, his mother’s perspective throughout his childhood. Rusbridge clearly distinguishes the child narrator from the adult and from a combination of all three, we can begin to piece together what happened that day on the beach, but also what happened in Andy’s life that he has forgotten (knowingly or not…)
Although I initially found all the talk of ropes, knots and Houdini quite hard to gather; I soon became engrossed and subsequently entwined within the narrative that Rusbridge (and Andy) were weaving. I actually found myself getting quite emotional towards the end of the book, revisiting memories of my own and reflecting them back onto the narrative!
You simply get swept away into the confusion and the mystery until you find yourself at the end of the book, finding out that what you’d assumed all along was incorrect but realising that, the reason for that was that you were looking through a child’s eyes. The various chapters through his mother Helen’s eyes give just enough information that we get a sense of the truth but are still unsure, her character is empowered at the end, which is lovely to read after witnessing her troubles throughout.
This is a great book, better as a holiday read than a commute-read I think…full of secrets, mysteries and subtle symbolism.