We all know that music has a power to change our mood, to calm or excite us, but can music also heal? Benjamin Wood plays around with this idea, and also the close relationship between genius and madness in his debut novel, The Bellwether Revivals.
Set in Cambridge, the story is narrated from the point of view of Oscar, a young care worker at a home for the elderly and infirm. Oscar loves the traditions and culture of his new town having escaped a working class background and a difficult relationship with his father. Now he borrows books from Dr Paulsen, a retired professor he looks after, hoping to plug the gaps in his education.
Walking home one night he is drawn into a service at Kings College Chapel by enchanting organ music. Here he meets the brother and sister, Eden and Iris Bellwether, two rather glamorous and exceedingly gifted students, who both take to Oscar in different ways.
Iris is beautiful and forms an attachment to Oscar, which he returns, while Eden dabbles in some weird experiments involving music and hypnosis. He is happy to invite Oscar to a little party with some hypnosis thrown in, an event that alarms Oscar immensely. As Eden becomes more and more of a loose canon, the worlds of the Oscar, the Bellwethers and Dr Paulsen become increasingly entangled and the plot builds towards a tense and chilling climax.
The Bellwether Revivals was nominated for a Costa Award last year, and it is not surprising as it has all the hallmarks of a terrific read, with a gripping storyline and fabulous characters. Benjamin Wood has produced a very original novel written with great panache.
Posted by JAM
Check the Catalogue and reserve online: The Bellwether Revivals