Ronald Harwood is a bold writer with an inquisitive conscience. In his new novel, César and Augusta, he explores a struggle that many people have ridiculed: goodness attempting to accomodate eroticism honourably. He has also chosen to reinterpret two complex musicians who had the highest aspirations, who were adored, revered, neglected, laughed at in France, taken up in Britain as the precursors of modern music, then often set aside again with exasperation and evasion. His hero César Franck, it has been said, made even Liszt blush.
Mr Harwood relives a few years in Franck's life with great imaginative sympathy. His writing is outstandingly readable and intelligent, and he is unusually open...
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