Frog Music (Paperback)
April 2014 Indie Next List
“Donoghue writes my favorite historical fiction. She has a knack for that great alchemy of turning research -- letters, family trees, and newspaper articles buried in archives -- into fiction that lives and breathes on the page. Frog Music, a vivid, atmospheric crime novel, brings to life the roiling streets of San Francisco just after the Gold Rush. The story of Blanche and her murdered friend, Jenny, which is based on true events, has a frantic pulse that makes it hard to put down. This is the kind of book only Donoghue could write, and I'm so glad she did”
— Kat Bailey, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA
From the author of the worldwide bestseller Room: "Her greatest achievement yet...Emma Donoghue shows more than range with Frog Music -- she shows genius."- Darin Strauss, author of Half a Life.
Summer of 1876: San Francisco is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heat wave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman named Jenny Bonnet is shot dead.
The survivor, her friend Blanche Beunon, is a French burlesque dancer. Over the next three days, she will risk everything to bring Jenny's murderer to justice -- if he doesn't track her down first. The story Blanche struggles to piece together is one of free-love bohemians, desperate paupers, and arrogant millionaires; of jealous men, icy women, and damaged children. It's the secret life of Jenny herself, a notorious character who breaks the law every morning by getting dressed: a charmer as slippery as the frogs she hunts.
In thrilling, cinematic style, Frog Music digs up a long-forgotten, never-solved crime. Full of songs that migrated across the world, Emma Donoghue's lyrical tale of love and bloodshed among lowlifes captures the pulse of a boomtown like no other.
About the Author
She is best known for her novels, which range from the historical (Frog Music, Slammerkin, Life Mask, Landing, The Sealed Letter) to the contemporary (Akin, Stir-Fry, Hood, Landing). Her international bestseller Room was a New York Times Best Book of 2010 and was a finalist for the Man Booker, Commonwealth, and Orange Prizes.
"FROG MUSIC...[brings] to steamy life the unresolved so-called San Miguel Mystery.... Donoghue front-loads the drama.... She captures San Francisco in all its melting-pot, fishy-smelling glory, and weaves in authentic details about smallpox outbreaks, race riots, and orphanages. Jenny Bonnet is an incendiary character pulled directly from the history books.... Her extraordinary life gives Donoghue's novel contemporary resonance."—Elyse Moody, Elle
"Donoghue's first literary crime novel is a departure from her bestselling Room, but it's just as dark and just as gripping as the latter.... Aside from the obvious whodunit factor, the book is filled with period song lyrics and other historic details, expertly researched and flushed out.... Donoghue's signature talent for setting tone and mood elevates the book from common cliffhanger to a true chef d'oeuvre."—Gabe Habash, Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Donoghue proves herself endlessly inventive....[She] nails both the period details and the atmosphere-think sweltering heat waves, dumping grounds for unwanted babies, and smallpox epidemics. This is the kind of book that will keep you up at night and make you smarter."—Julie Buntin, Cosmopolitan
"[An] offbeat, high-minded whodunit from the award-winning author of Room."—Adam Rathe, DuJour
"The Room author's latest novel, about a woman solving her friend's murder in 1876 San Fran, sucks you in."—Megan Angelo, Glamour
"Like Room...Donoghue here displays an uncanny knack for telling an off-putting story in such a way that you can't stop reading it, that you fall a little bit in love with the characters and the moment in time she's creating."—Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times
"Donoghue delivers her best to date.... [She] had us with her novel Room.... But in her latest, she outdoes herself. She leaves behind her familiar, her trusted ways and dishes up something bold, raw-ish and fabulously fun-whilst maintaining a very serious and noted literary merit."—Daniel Scheffler, Edge
"Vividly rendered.... A page-turner, full of suspense; fans of Room will recognize the dark, gripping tension Donoghue creates so masterfully. But the novel goes far beyond the usual thriller in its nuanced characterizations: Jenny and Blanche are sculpted into living, breathing, feeling individuals, and even minor characters pulse with life."—Patricia Hagen, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Donoghue's latest novel has many facets, all of them fascinating.... Like her hair-raising best-seller Room, it incorporates the elements of a thriller; in fact, there's enough puzzle here to qualify as a full-blooded mystery. Best of all, there's Donoghue's intricate examination of women in impossible circumstances, bound to repugnant men for survival but never broken by them.... Colorful French slang and period songs...flow through the novel lyrically, making the era as vital as the plot. Donoghue is acrobatic with her storytelling and language and paints the stinking city vividly.... [A] vibrant and remarkable novel."—San Jose Mercury News
"An engrossing read."—June Thomas, NY1's "The Book Reader"
"Where Donoghue excels is in her descriptions of 19th century squalor.... Poignant."—Elizabeth Hand, Los Angeles Times
"As with Room, the book thrives on Donoghue's precisely poignant details.... This is a book to cherish, to share with your friends and book clubs, to buy for every reader on your Christmas list, and to read again in a few years. Adored is not too strong a word to describe my feelings for it. My one wish: Emma Donoghue, could you please write faster?"—Joy Tipping, Dallas Morning News
"Room's eloquent author brings the same sensitivity to this period piece, which explores the unsolved 1876 San Francisco murder of Jenny Bonnet through the eyes of the bohemian friend she left behind."—InStyle