Hello all, now again from my desk comes a presentation of a new book. This book is from yet another returning author; Riana Everly. In the passing months, Riana has been writing murder mysteries within the world of Austen. The first was, “The death of a clergyman.” which is still waiting on my desk, alongside several others. pulls an embarrassed face This time it is Highbury’s turn to have a murder, and luckily, Mary is on hand to investigate.
When political chaos in London forces Mary Bennet to take refuge in the picturesque town of Highbury, Surrey, she quickly finds herself safe among friends. Emma Woodhouse welcomes her as a guest at Hartfield, Jane Fairfax is delighted by her love of music, and Frank Churchill can’t stop flirting with her. But it is not long before Mary starts to suspect that beneath the charming surface, Highbury hides some dark secrets.
Alexander Lyons is sent to Surrey on an investigation, and at his friend Darcy’s request, heads to Highbury to make certain Mary is comfortable and safe. But no sooner does he arrive than one local man dies, and then another!
Soon Alexander and Mary are thrust into the middle of a baffling series of deaths. Are they accidents? Or is there a very clever murderer hiding in their midst? And can they put their personal differences aside in time to prevent yet another death in Highbury?
Piano Music in history;
Riana and I have several interests in common, one of them is Music, so Riana has written about music, and piano duets especially, which is also a common element in this book. I will leave you all in Riana’s capable musical hands. Welcome back, Riana!
Thanks so much, Sophia, for letting me visit your lovely blog today. I always enjoy stopping by here to chat about what I’m up to and what I’ve been writing. Today I want to talk a bit about my newest release, Death in Highbury: An Emma Mystery, and more specifically, piano duets.
How does an Austen-inspired mystery relate to piano duets? Let me explain. In the first mystery in this series, Mary Bennet stayed at home to solve the mystery of her cousin Mr. Collins’ death. Now, in her second adventure, she is in Highbury, Surrey, the setting for Jane Austen’s Emma.
Mary stays with Emma Woodhouse, and soon meets the rest of Highbury society, including Jane Fairfax. Jane is a gifted musician and has recently been given a fine pianoforte, and when she learns that Mary plays as well, Jane invites Mary over to play duets with her.
The first known duets for two people at one keyboard date from around 1600, but the musical form did not become popular until the late 18th century. For one thing, the close physical proximity of the players was deemed to be inappropriate, and for another, women’s wide skirts made sitting next to each other a challenge. But young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) and his sister played duets in public in London in 1764-5, and later wrote four sonatas for one piano, four hands.
Here is his final composition for this combination, the sonata in C, K.521 (1787).
But the piano duet wasn’t just for performing musicians. Before the age of audio recording, the only way to hear music was either to go to a concert or to play it yourself at home. Arrangements of popular songs were often found in people’s personal sheet music collections, and arrangements of grander pieces, like symphonies, were also sought after. Music was widely performed at home by both serious proficient pianists and competent amateurs.
So what would Mary and Jane Fairfax have played? They might have sat down to work through the Mozart sonatas. They also might have played through Muzio Clementi’s sonatas. Clementi (1752-1832) was an Italian-born composer who lived much of his life in England. Although his fame reached far beyond England’s borders during his lifetime, his popularity has waned a bit over the last 100 years or so. Still, his music is always melodic and charming and most young piano students have played his sonatinas.
Here is his Sonata No.2 in C major for piano duet.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXJx9K874a4 (Clementi Sonata no.2 in C major for piano 4 hands)
And here is the first page of Beethoven’s Sonata for Piano Four Hands, Op. 6 (1796-97). If you play at all, you can how this is approachable for a competent amateur. It does get more difficult, but it’s certainly something Mary and Jane could play with enjoyment for both themselves and anyone listening.
I personally think this sounds fascinating, since I do not play, I am more of a writer and singer myself. But I have grown up in a classical home, so I grew up on Mozart, Vivaldi and a mix of Disney and other children genre music, later on in my teens and early twenties Beethoven, Mozart, John Williams, Silvestri, Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky and several others, became the most listened to genre for me, and I do enjoy it and I personally love music.
Here is an excerpt from Death in Highbury: An Emma Mystery.
They had arrived at the top of the stairs and Emma gave a sharp knock at the door, which was answered almost at once. The small party was invited in by the serving girl and led through a very small vestibule to a cosy sitting room, made even cosier by the presence of an imposing pianoforte that occupied much of the room. It was a beautiful instrument, quite incongruous in this small and unprepossessing space.
The room, to Mary’s surprise, was quite full of company. Mrs. Bates sat at her knitting by the window, where the light was best, and Miss Bates and Miss Fairfax had risen from their seats at a small table near the quiet dark fireplace, in the company of none other than Frank Churchill! Once more, Mary observed the flitter of glances between Miss Woodhouse, Mr. Knightley, Miss Fairfax, and Mr. Churchill, that told of a tale far more complicated and involved than any of the parties to it seemed to acknowledge. In contrast, Harriet Smith’s expression was wistful and innocent, and she seemed quite apart in so many ways from the subtle undercurrents that suffused the small parlour.
Sounding embarrassed to break the moment of silence that ensued, Harriet handed the basket to Miss Bates. “Mrs. Goddard had extra food, some pies and preserves, and hoped you might help us by taking them before they turn.”
“How very kind, so obliging!” Miss Bates turned her nervous smile on the young visitor. “Yes, very kind indeed! Mother has been at her baking today, for all that she enjoys the activity so much, even if it is not what ladies ought to do, but it is a source of pleasure for her. Mr. and Mrs. Elton were by, so good of them to visit and talk of poor Mr. Abdy. I knew him when he worked for Father, of course, although that was many years ago and I had not spoken to him much after Father died and he went to live with his sons, but Mother was not able to go to the kitchens to bake. So kind of Mrs. Goddard to think of us. Let us see… oh, fruit tarts! Lovely. So lovely. Perhaps we can set them out with tea. Tea! Yes, please, let me see about calling for tea.”
“Miss Bennet,” Frank Churchill turned his smile upon her once more. “I could not keep myself away from the joy of hearing you at the keyboard. I do hope you do not mind. I have been helping Miss Fairfax sort through her music. Here is a set of marches by Mr. Beethoven, or this by Mr. Kozeluch, or look here, some sonatas by Mr. Mozart. Ladies, I rely on you to tell me which to set out.”
The morning passed quickly; Mary enjoyed Miss Fairfax’s quiet company and strove to match the other’s considerable skill at the keyboard, and the musical results were not unpleasing. The clock chimed noon, and then one, and at last, having played many notes and consumed several pieces of fruitcake and lavender biscuits, Mary and the rest of the party from Hartfield took their leave.
“Thank you, Miss Bennet, for lending me your skills,” Miss Fairfax said as they departed. “I would be very pleased should you wish to return tomorrow if you have time before the ball, or the day after.”
This pleased Mary. “If I am still in town, the pleasure would be my own.” She dropped a curtsey to her hosts and thanked Miss Bates and Mrs. Bates and followed her new friends down the stairs to the street.
Now, time for the giveaway!! Yay!
I am giving away five eBooks worldwide over the course of this blog tour, chosen randomly from people who enter. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter link or widget.
If you don’t like Rafflecopter, you can still enter. Just send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) saying so, and I’ll add your name to the list for the draw.
The giveaway will close at 12am EST on February 27, 2021.
Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back.
Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!
Universal Link: https://books2read.com/deathinhighbury
Amazon Link: http://mybook.to/deathinhighbury
So, that is it for this time around! I am working or reading as fast as possible through several books still, but I do promise at some point, I hope soon I will present my reviews for Riana’s two murder mysteries, and a few others. So, therefore for now, I will say, see you soon, dear readers.