In this collection of three wildly divergent novellas Faber creates varied and vividly imagined worlds where the central/core theme is one of survival and renewal. Each masterfully written segment is amazing in its own way - multi-layered, absorbing, rich with an air of menace (unsettling), and a recurring habit of smashing all notions of predictability. The surprises blindsided me every time. My favorite novella was 'The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps' about a strange isolated woman on an archaeological dig. However, all three stories left a strong impression. It must have been nice for Mr. Faber to work on some shorter pieces after his mammoth novel 'The Crimson Petal and the White'.
There is no doubt that Faber is a great modern novelist. The Crimson Petal and the White is an amazing book, and Under the Skin is a great original tale. Faber writes original plots that take you to a place and time you've never been before. But with the Courage Consort, Faber offers us three short tales that, while usually entertaining, are not as fascinating as his novels.
The title story, The Courage Consort, is also the collection's weakest. A group of opera singers go to a mansion in the middle of the woods to practice their latest show in solitude. The story's heroine, Catherine, is a troubled and depressed woman who doesn't know what she wants out of life anymore. Or, for that matter, if she even has the will to live another day. Although the tale offers many touching moments, in the end, it ends up nowhere. This allegory of life and death isn't all that it's cracked up to be.
The Hundred and Ninety-nine Steps is a very good mystery about an archeologist's...
Not one of these three earnest novellas really appealed to me--yet I cherished and treasured all of them. The various characters were flawed (as are all characters), and their subsequent interactions and conflict mundane, yet I still remained transfixed as I turned each page. Let's see: a singing ensemble, an insecure anthropologist, and two tiny twins above the Artic Circle. . .none of the above really interests me. Yet Michel Faber's amazing gift with the written word made his three-novella collection, named THE COURAGE CONSORT, an absolutely spellbinding, mystical, existential, and satisfying reading experience.
The "Guardian" of London says of Faber: "This is a man who could give Conrad a run at writing the perfect sentence." Darn right. Faber's writing is clean, concise, compelling--a fluid nirvana of perfectly-matched nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions. The prose is nothing short of brilliant: the author manipulates the English language like a...
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