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.

7 thoughts on “Review: Frog Music – Emma Donoghue

    • I think there was, quite simply, a lot of lost potential. She had a lot of hype to live up to after Room and, going back to her roots of more historical fiction, there has been a bit of a stumble. I can’t put my finger on it, it’s just not as good as the stuff of her’s I’ve read before which is unfortunate. Because she can write, her character development has been superb… just she stumbled here!

      Thanks for the comment! =)

    • Oh the cover is gorgeous! I actually have the paperback and it’s equally as beautiful. Truthfully, the cover is half of what sold it to me – I am a bit vain when it comes to books!

      • Don’t worry, you’re not the only one! Covers are my weakness during book shopping (bad habits die hard, we all unconsciously judge books based on the covers).

  1. I keep hearing how disappointing Donough’s other works are and it’s weird.She wrote Room. That novel was brilliant. I want to read it again and can see it easly considered a modern classic. Then again, Imagine Dragons also had 3 brilliant songs and a dull album.

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