• by Ross King
  • Narrated by Denis Quilley
  • 3 hrs and 4 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

After meeting the mysterious and beautiful Lady Beauclair at a society ball, George Cautley, a hapless young artist trying to make his way in the gilded world of 1770s London, paints her portrait while she tells him the scandalous story of Tristano, a castrato singer in Handel's opera company 50 years before. Cautley, seeking love and truth in an age of deception and disguise, flees to Bath, where he unwittingly finds himself re-enacting the tragic fate of Tristano.


What the Critics Say

"Replete with mystery and suspense, and immersed in vivid historical details, this work is also a sharp, philosophical musing on the disguises of the world and the search for the truth that lies beneath." (Library Journal)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A confusing masquerade

I've loved Ross King's art history books, so his first novel, set in one of my favorite time periods intrigued me. The characters sounded rather enticing, the plot intricate.

But when I finished it, I felt as if I'd been whirled about in one too many waltzes after an excess of champagne. What on earth really happened in this story? I can't tell you because I don't know.

The best part of this book is the vitality of its imagery. With his visually acute sensibility, King conjures images of beauty, decadence, and sensuality with admirable skill. He brings the reader into intimate contact with life in the late 18th Century. While many historical novels get some details wrong (and this one is no exception) the flaws here are insignificant.

Our narrator confesses within minutes that he is a murderer. This, along with the dazzling milieu, draws one into the story and its characters. But then a sort of madness sets in. It didn't take long before I was utterly confused.

The theme of the masquerade, of nothing being as it seems, is intentional and provides the overriding metaphor for the novel. But did King mean to be so obscure that many readers should have no idea what it was all about? If so, why? I wish I could ask the author!

Perhaps I am not bright enough to comprehend this book. If you feel differently about it, please write a review. As for myself, I can't recommend this, despite the late actor Denis Quilley's magnificent narration.
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- Die Falknerin

So - so

I agree with the other reviewer on this book. It could have been good, but I just couldn't understand
what was going on in the story, due to the narration. It was entirely jumbled and in the audio, there was no differention in the characters, so you couldn't tell who was who. Moral of this one- save your money, get something else.
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- Pamela

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-08-2007
  • Publisher: Random House AudioBooks