Songs of Triumphant Love - Jessica Duchen - 22/07/09

Jessica Duchen has music in her soul ... and she uses the intrinsic harmonies that so patently instruct her own life as the inspiration for her clever and compassionate novels

Her latest and startlingly original book about the healing powers of music revolves around Russian author Ivan Turgenev's short story The Song of Triumphant Love.

Turgenev fell hopelessly in love with the 19th century opera singer Pauline Viardot who famously quit the stage at an early age because she lost her beautiful singing voice.

Taking the relationship between Turgenev and Viardot as her central theme, Duchen weaves the strands of their real lives into the fictional but parallel tale of an opera singer facing a career-ending illness.

The love of Terri Ivory's life, even though she can't bring herself to accept it, is Bosnian refugee Teo Popovic, a man haunted by the deaths of his wife and children in war-torn Mostar but who has found solace in his obsessive devotion to Terri.

Terri, the girl from the Gorbals who found fame with her golden voice, is at a crossroads in her life. A polyp in her throat could spell the end of a glittering career but how does an adrenalin junkie survive without the stage?

And Terri knows only too well that 'no recording, broadcast or film can bring back the living energy of the song once it's over...'

And then there is her teenage daughter Julie, fresh out of school, tied up in a long-term relationship with first love Alistair but unsure of her future and devastated by a discovery in one of her mother's old diaries.

Meanwhile, Alistair, dyslexic, short on confidence and jobless, also teeters on the brink of a brave new world. How will Julie react to his decision to join the army and will it finally tear them apart?

Like the rumbling arrival of a storm, disaster inevitably strikes and all four of these troubled people have to make vital choices that will affect the rest of their lives...

Duchen's twin passions are music and writing and in Songs of Triumphant Love they work together in perfect harmony.

Terri is a masterful creation ... a larger-than-life diva with very human flaws but who has the guts and determination to take the world and the stage by storm.

And her story is not just a tale of universal human emotion but a symphony to the offbeat melodies of modern life...

(Hodder, paperback, 7.99)