Frog Music

Frog Music

by Emma Donoghue

Ricki Brodie (05/07/14): The book takes place in San Francisco, in 1876, during a small pox epidemic and an oppressive heat wave. It is based on an unsolved murder of Jenny, a tough-acting, petite frog catcher who keeps getting arrested for wearing men’s clothing in public. The story moves backward a month and forward to the murder witnessed by Blanche who wants justice for her friend.

Blanche, at fifteen, fell in love with an aerialist in France and joined him and his friend. A pregnant Blanche left with them for San Francisco where Blanche “danced” in a burlesque house and prostituted herself to the wealthier patrons. She bought them a house and kept the two men in cash enabling them to dress impeccably and gamble away her hard earned money.

Jenny knocked Blanche down while riding her big wheel bicycle. They started talking and bonded immediately. Jenny makes Blanche question decisions she has made, like abandoning her child and her relationship with her boyfriend and his adoring sidekick. Jenny is shot and killed within inches of Blanche who is sure she knows the culprit.

Donohue, the author of "Room" peppers the novel with French slang (glossary in back) and songs Jenny has picked up over the years. The characters, some sad or despicable or free-spirited appear realistic in the historical settings. Given the lack of an abundance of information lost is the San Francisco fire of 1906, the author has done a credible job. While I was reading the book I gave it a 3. In retrospect, I would give it a****-.
Rating: ****-

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