From the critically acclaimed author Emma Donoghue
comes the first novel since the best-selling book Room
. Frog Music
opens in 1876 San Francisco with the murder of Jenny Bonnet, a brash cross-dressing American frog catcher. Her friend and exotic dancer Blanche Beunon witnesses the murder and tries to bring the killers to justice while searching for her infant son.
Perhaps what makes the novel most fascinating is that Donoghue has taken facts from the real murder and weaved them into her novel. Many of her characters were real people that she pulled from newspapers articles and court documents from the time. The characters in Frog Music are vivid and seedy with conflicting internal desires. Blanche wants to be a loving mother, but is continually frustrated and annoyed with her infant son. She wants to be in control of her earnings, but is letting her “fancy men” take advantage of her and use the money to gamble. At the heart of the story is a friendship between two women, but as Blanche realizes, Jenny was a person that was “easy to enjoy, but hard to know”. As I wound through the tale, I became hooked on trying to solve the murder and drawn into the lives of so many vivid characters. Woven through the book are song lyrics of the time, including French, American, and Creole folk songs.
While Emma Donoghue is most widely known for her bestselling book Room, she really shines in her works of historical fiction. I would highly recommend Astray
, a collection of short stories based on historical events. Here is a brief interview
with Emma Donoghue where she discusses the actual events of the crime and her research process of writing Frog Music.