Books Past

Aug 2020: The Vexations

The Vexations by Caitlin Horrocks

fiction suggested by Shirley

From Amazon – A novel about the life of French composer Erik Satie, in the streets and cafes of Montmartre on the cusp of the twentieth century, about family and genius and the toll that genius exacts on family in pursuit of great art.

Erik Satie begins life with every possible advantage. But after the dual blows of his mother’s early death and his father’s breakdown upend his childhood, Erik and his younger siblings — Louise and Conrad — are scattered. Later, as an ambitious young composer, Erik flings himself into the Parisian art scene, aiming for greatness but achieving only notoriety.

As the years, then decades, pass, he alienates those in his circle as often as he inspires them, lashing out at friends and lovers like Claude Debussy and Suzanne Valadon. Only Louise and Conrad are steadfast allies. Together they strive to maintain their faith in their brother’s talent and hold fast the badly frayed threads of family. But in a journey that will take her from Normandy to Paris to Argentina, Louise is rocked by a severe loss that ultimately forces her into a reckoning with how Erik — obsessed with his art and hungry for fame — will never be the brother she’s wished for. … about the tenacious bonds of family and the costs of greatness, both to ourselves and to those we love.