Emma Donoghue writes my favorite historical fiction. She has a knack for that great alchemy of turning research (letters, family trees, old newspaper articles buried in archives) into fiction that lives and breathes on the page. Frog Music, a vivid, atmospheric crime novel, brings to life the boiling streets of San Francisco just after the Gold Rush. The story of Blanche and her murdered friend Jenny (which is based on true events) has a frantic pulse that makes it hard to put down. This is the kind of book only Donoghue could write, and I’m so glad she did.— Kat
Frog Music hits every bewitching note on key, a haunting immersion into 19th century San Francisco and the allure of an unsolved murder. Donoghue's writing is so vivid that you can feel the fumes of the scorching heat waves sweltering through Market Street and China Town as Blanche, a burlesque dancer, scrambles to find her son and bring justice to her dead friend. Raw, captivating, and thrilling.— Eva
Come for the murder mystery, stay for the queer women and a vividly painted portrait of San Francisco in 1876. San Francisco before the 1906 earthquake feels like a fascinating foreign country, offering a setting different from any historical fiction I've read before. I adored the twists and turns through tenements and languages, music and time.— Clara
“Donoghue writes my favorite historical fiction. She has a knack for that great alchemy of turning research -- letters, family trees, and newspaper articles buried in archives -- into fiction that lives and breathes on the page. Frog Music, a vivid, atmospheric crime novel, brings to life the roiling streets of San Francisco just after the Gold Rush. The story of Blanche and her murdered friend, Jenny, which is based on true events, has a frantic pulse that makes it hard to put down. This is the kind of book only Donoghue could write, and I'm so glad she did”
— Kat Bailey, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA
Emma Donoghue's explosive new novel, based on an unsolved murder.
Summer of 1876. San Francisco is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heat wave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman called Jenny Bonnet is shot dead.
The survivor, her friend Blanche Beunon, is a French burlesque dancer. Over the next three days, she will risk everything to bring Jenny's murderer to justice-if he doesn't track her down first.
The story Blanche struggles to piece together is one of free-love bohemians, desperate paupers, and arrogant millionaires; of jealous men, icy women, and damaged children. It's the secret life of Jenny herself, a notorious character who breaks the law every morning by getting dressed: a charmer as slippery as the frogs she hunts.
In thrilling, cinematic style, Frog Music digs up a long-forgotten, never-solved crime. Full of songs that migrated across the world, Emma Donoghue's lyrical tale of love and bloodshed captures the pulse of a boomtown like no other.