Review: Frog Music – Emma Donoghue

frog-musicSo I was really excited to pick this book up. I’ve read a couple of books by Emma Donoghue before (Room and Slammerkin) and while Room was a standout, Slammerkin was a little more nondescript. From what I understand, Room is very different to the majority of her work but nonetheless I enjoyed a couple of her novels and I really liked the premise of this.

Frog Music is set in San Francisco and based on an unsolved crime – obviously there is a lot of wiggle room for Donoghue to play with characters and the actual plot. In chapter 1, Jenny is murdered and her friend, Blanche, is trying to bring justice.

This book is a bit messy. It has the story running as two timelines parallel to each other, the dialogue is quite sloppy and in some parts unnecessary. The story is grim (it is a murder, but there’s so much grimmer than that). The characters, something which I feel are often Donoghue’s strength felt really underdeveloped and I disliked most of them. If she had been written in a different situation, Jenny could have been simply amazing – a Victorian-era cross-dressing lesbian who goes out catching frogs and sent for wearing trousers – but she wasn’t established well enough for her to hold my interest. I would read a book about that woman but… this one wasn’t the one for her.

I forced the remainder of the book during the start of Dewey’s 24hr Read-a-Thon (which I found out about quite late, around 10am Saturday) and had to really force it down. Truthfully I skimmed a lot of the dialogue because it was just dull. It was a quick read, it just wasn’t all that good.

This has seriously made me question whether I want to read any more by Donoghue. This makes me sad, I held such high hopes for this – and for Donoghue’s writing if nothing else. But this just let me down. I think I went in to it with such high expectation I could only be disappointed. The on;y redeeming feature was Jenny, and she was so poorly used that I’m being generous when I say I’ll give this a 2/5.