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The Music Room by William Fiennes

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Shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award 2009.

Costa Book Awards 2009 Judges' comment: "A beautifully-written evocation of place, loss and family."

William Fiennes' account of growing up at Broughton Castle is charming and full of detail. It makes all those childhood dreams of growing up in ones own castle come flooding back. Along with this though is the story of Williams's brother Richard who suffered from epilepsy and despite the stresses this caused the family there is an overwhelming feeling of love throughout. A sensitively and honestly told memoir


The Music Room by William Fiennes

Our house was almost seven hundred years old . . .

William Fiennes spent his childhood in a magical place, a moated castle, the perfect environment for a child with a brimming imagination. It is a house alive with history, beauty and mystery, but the young boy growing up in it is equally in awe of his brother Richard. Eleven years older and a magnetic presence, Richard suffers from severe epilepsy. His energy influences the rhythms of the family and the house’s internal life, and his story inspires a journey, interwoven with loving recollection, towards an understanding of the mind.

This is a song of home, of an adored brother and of the miracle of consciousness. The chill of the ‘dark historical spaces’ coexists with the warmth and chatter of the family kitchen, and the surrounding landscapes are distinguished by ancient trees, secret haunts, the moat’s depths and temptations. Bursting with tender detail, and combining humour, pathos and wisdom, The Music Room is a sensuous tribute to place, memory and the permanence of love.


The Music Room has an elegiac feel, not least -because Mr. Fiennes writes about his family with such care and dignity. His descriptions of Richard's -outbursts and seizures have the brutality of truth -without any of the modern memoirist's tendency to sensationalize. We are brought deep into the castle that was a family's home, yet what we learn still has an air about it of privacy and restraint. -- Meghan Cox Gurdon

About the Author

William Fiennes has contributed to Granta, the London Review of Books, the Observer, the Daily Telegraph and the Times Literary Supplement. He lives in Oxford, England. He is the author of the acclaimed The Snow Geese.

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Book Info

Publication date

5th March 2010


William Fiennes

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Picador an imprint of Pan Macmillan


224 pages


Biography / Autobiography
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