The Travelling Horn Player

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

With the wit typical of her four previous novels, Barbara Trapido, in The Travelling Horn Player, describes how the members, especially the children, of two academic families need and respond to each other.

In six of the seven chapters, the point of view, in the first and third person, of three major characters is in control: that of Ellen Dent, a university student; that of Jonathan Goldman, a novelist; and that of Stella Goldman, his daughter, a cellist.

Ellen Dent opens the novel with her sister Lydia’s death, which moves her to detail their jolly childhood together—their father a headmaster, their mother re-married to a professor, and their stepmother, despite a troubled miscarriage, devoted to their father. Lydia, infatuated with Jonathon Goldman, has moved him to help her write a paper for university on Wilhelm Muller, a German Romantic poet, the traveling horn player of the title whom Jonathon himself is the equivalent of as the writer of a novel called Have Horn, Will Travel and as a sentimental and witless lover. Unknown to him until much later, Lydia is run over in front of his apartment when Stella upbraids her on his intercom, thinking Lydia is Jonathon’s mistress Sonia.

Stella is dyslexic, but she has a gift for sports and music, and her mother Katherine devotes her life to her. While Jonathon moves to his old apartment in London to write, Stella, a student cellist by then, breaks up with Izzy...

(The entire section is 432 words.)