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The Sound of Blue: A Novel

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | The Sound of Blue: A Novel.pdf | Language: UNKNOWN
    Holly Payne(Author)

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The Sound of Blue takes readers on an exquisite and soulful journey into a rare part of the world, exploring the healing power of music in the lives of three strangers during the last Balkan War. Sara Foster has left America for the adventure of a lifetime-teaching English to the elite of Hungary, but ends up teaching in a refugee camp instead and falling in love with one of her students, a celebrated synesthete composer. When he mysteriously disappears from the camp, Sara finds herself crossing the border into his war-torn homeland, determined to return the musical masterpiece that he has left behind. In a perilous journey that takes her to Dubrovnik, a magnificent stone city on the Croatian Riviera, Sara meets Luka, a troubled drummer boy, who's captivated the town's attention and heart and who holds the secret to the composer's fate and her own. Bringing to life a world that readers seldom have the opportunity to see, The Sound of Blue reveals poignant truths about the quests for refuge we all pursue.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Payne's second novel (after 2002's well-received The Virgin's Knot) ruminates on refuge and how solace may be found in music and memory. In 1992, after getting rejected from Harvard Law School, Sara Foster flees to teach English in Hungary. She envisions a glamorous Budapest "where poets and politicians gobbled cakes and cobbled history, mixing ink with icing, calling it sweet," but instead finds herself giving lessons in optimism to Croatian refugees in Csokhid who have fled the "twentieth-century psoriasis" of war. Though used to solitude, Sara feels painfully disconnected; she finds comfort in the music of Milan, a Serbian composer who welcomes her attention ("The sound of blue had permitted perfect strangers to turn toward each other in one measured moment of refuge"). But when Milan returns to his native Dubrovnik to face his demons, Sara follows, to the war-torn city where a young half-Croatian, half-Serbian refugee named Luka searches for his drum, which will "wake the dead." Payne employs flourishes of figurative language and poetic musings on the nature of refuge and memory. But these exquisite (and sometimes overwritten) miniatures come at the expense of the bigger picture; the plot's clarity and momentum suffer, as do character development and the novel's real and dark context. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition. Payne's haunting second novel, following The Virgin Knot (2002), takes place during the Balkan War in a Hungarian refugee camp housing 48,000 Croats. After failing to get into Harvard law school, Sara Foster intended to teach English abroad. Instead she ends up at the refugee camp, where she quickly becomes inextricably entangled in the anguished lives of her students. She knows her job is futile: the refugees are "only teetering on the edge of consciousness," never speaking of the past, for that would make it real. But Sara bonds with Elana, a widowed Croat nurse who has become separated from her nine-year-old son, who readers see scavenging for food and refusing to go to the orphanage. Running from her own demons, Sara is especially vulnerable to the heart-wrenching chaos surrounding her, echoing the words spoken on her arrival, "The minute you open your heart to a refugee, you suffer everything they have suffered." Against a background of stark wartime imagery, Payne laces her tale with poetic musings on the healing and redemptive power of love. Deborah DonovanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Book details

  • PDF | 336 pages
  • Holly Payne(Author)
  • Unknown
  • Unknown
  • 6
  • Literature & Fiction

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Review Text

  • By C. W. Gortner on August 1, 2005

    Holly Payne's new novel "The Sound of Blue" is a haunting rumination on love, loss, and the healing power of music and memory. It is also a stark, candid exploration of the toll of war on the human spirit.Set during the Balkan conflict, Payne skillfully interweaves the tale of an American girl's quest for redemption, a boy's courage in the face of the unspeakable, and a musician's need for meaning in a chaotic, often brutal world. With a rare talent for painting colors into what Americans have most often seen as a black and white static on the television, Payne avoids the easy answer in favor of the larger question, and thus offers us characters who define the true complexity of what it means to be human.Both sublime and heart-wrenching, illumined by a rare insight into the chambers of the soul by a mistress of the word, THE SOUND OF BLUE challenges us to remember, and by remembering, to never forget.

  • By Nathan D. Hulley on February 1, 2005

    After reading The Virgin's Knot, I couldn't wait for Holly Payne's second book to arrive. In the beginning you can almost feel the puszta air around you as you get to know the main character Sara and Payne skillfully parallels the unknowns of the night in a turbulent place in time with the mysteries of Sara's past. The depth of description of towns in Croatia and Hungary brings you into a not-so-distant war that many people still struggle with, and Payne does a great job of exploring this through the characters. Perhaps the best aspect is the spirit of the Balkans, which you can feel throughout the novel. The only thing that could have made the book better would have been reading it sitting on the castle wall at Dubrovnik. Maybe next time around.

  • By Christina Green on February 18, 2005

    "The Sound of Blue" is the best book I have read in quite a long time. The characters are intensely vivid and the storyline masterfully weaves together the lives of three people who were brought together by the horrific conflict in Yugoslavia. I feel like I have made a short visit to this seemingly beautiful part of the world without actually traveling there. "The Sound of Blue" brings whole knew meaning to the word "refuge" and provides a reality check on the individual burdens that our senseless wars create. This book will stay in my thoughts for quite a long time...I am looking forward to reading more Holly Payne novels.

  • By nimadea on June 13, 2008

    Holly Payne has created a completely self-absorbed and unlikable protagonist. Continually equating Sarah's troubles with those of the refugees is equally offensive and ridiculous. Furthermore, many of the sentences lack any intelligible structure and must be read repeatedly, not because of their profundity but because of their disregard for the rules of grammer. The same can be said for the story line itself, and the side steps into forced, overly poetical musings only make matters worse. Such a difficult topic as this deserved to be treated with more respect.

  • By David Lynn on March 25, 2005

    Having spent some time as a volunteer at refugee camp in Hungary, I was intrigued by Holly Payne's ability to articulate the emotions of those who have had to call these places home. Her words brought back memories of my own observations and interactions in a way that was amazingly insightful and accurate. I appreciate her efforts to bring depth and connection to the often anonymous faces that we see on TV and shed light on the deep contrast between the rich vibrant culture of the Balkans and the horrors that tore this region apart in the late twentieth century.

  • By J. Christine Barbour on March 25, 2014

    Holly Payne has written another heart fillled, thought provoking story, involving characters with so much life and emotion, I was right there with them. The Sound of Blue is a wonderful story of tragedy and hope and love, and well worth reading every single word. I can't wait to read the next one, and the next one, and the next one!

  • By Sondra Miller on February 1, 2005

    The characters in Ms. Payne's second novel, The Sound of Blue, are more compelling and intriguing than her first book, The Virgin's Knot. She focuses on the sadness and connectedness between lost souls: people searching for parts of themselves that are repressed, lost or waiting to be discovered. Her strong use of description and metaphor helps the reader look inward and contemplate his/her own life's searches.

  • By Bridgette on June 7, 2005

    Another fabulous book by Holly Payne - can't wait for the next one!! The characters and locations in The Sound of Blue come to life so vividely and clearly. I truly feel like I've learned something about a place and time in the world I knew nothing about.


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