The Song of Hartgrove Hall is the story of Harry Fox-Talbot. In alternating chapters, the reader sees Fox as a young man and as an elderly man. The young Fox reveals the struggle of the Fox-Talbot brothers to save their dilapidated ancestral home—Hartgrove Hall—and Fox’s undeniable passion for composing music, collecting folk songs, and his brother’s girl, Edie Rose. In contrast, the elderly Fox struggles with the death of his beloved wife, his inability to compose more music, and the discovery that his young, difficult grandson has an amazing gift for music.
Natasha Solomons masterfully interleaves these two story lines to slowly reveal a complete picture of Fox’s life. Indeed, Solomons uses her choice of structure to its full advantage to tantalizes readers, but permitting them to know from the beginning, for example, who Fox marries, but making it unclear how that could have happened. Furthermore, she skillfully crafts Fox’s character so that he sounds like the same character at distinctly different ages. Ultimately, Solomons has written a delightfully entertaining novel addressing the powerful ties of home, family, love, and music—which readers will find difficult to put down.
(Reviewed in exchange for a copy of the book in Manhattan Book Review.)