After a brief career as a professional singer, Roland Vernon settled in the countryside, dividing his time between writing and managing his own small rural business. He is the author of several biographical books about musicians, and Star in the East, a biography of the philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti. His début novel, A Dark Enchantment, won the Daily Mail First Novel Award and is published by Transworld. He lives in Somerset with his wife and three sons. His most recent novel, The Maestro’s Voice, was published by Transworld on 15th April 2010. A historical novel set in New York in 1926 it tells the tale of a famous tenor, Rocco Campobello, who rejects his glittering career to return to his home city of Naples, to confront his past.
His latest novel, The Good Wife’s Castle, was published by Transworld in April 2012.
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THE GOOD WIFE’S CASTLE
The unexpected suicide of an apparently happy family man; a woman held captive for three years in a forgotten underground bunker; a middle aged clergyman at a crisis point in his life, drawn into an uncomfortable relationship with a teenaged girl. Against the backcloth of these interwoven tales comes the story of two very different men who meet accidentally and are dramatically thrown together.
Piet Steyn and Granville St Clair happen both to be out walking at dawn on a country lane when they unintentionally become joint witnesses of a domestic tragedy. There is one aspect of what they see that morning which they feel compelled to keep secret – a decision that will later have appalling repercussions for them both. As the layers of their private lives begin to peel away, they find themselves unwillingly bound together in a conspiracy with deadly consequences.
The Good Wife’s Castle is a tense thriller that explores a clash of human evil and goodness, of despair, murderous obsession and twisted spirituality, all of which co-exist beneath the veneer of seemingly respectable people in a quiet rural community.
PUBLISHER: Black Swan (Transworld)
PUBLICATION DATE: 26th April 2012
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The lives of some amazing people who have brought music to our world Each book concentrates on one of the world’s most famous composers. Tracking their history to give us an insight into their lives as composers and as famous historical characters. – Each book gives us a look into the minds of these famous composers and how there experiences have shaped them into the composers we know today. – Tracking the composers from young proteges to their rise as composers, each book goes indepth in to the key landmark events and time of their lives. Also providing commentary of the major historic events of the time. – Illustrated in full colour and making use of contemporary pieces. The illustrations bring life to the stories being told. – The information is clearly presented enticing younger readers to take interest into this often boring subject, it does this by focusing on the composer as a person rather that just a composer of classical music.
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Focusing on Vivaldi, this book is one of a series, which sets famous composers within the context of the times in which they lived. Revolution, the Enlightenment, the rise of Fascism, the fashion of the times – all of these influenced composers as they struggled to write their music. Antonio Vivaldi lived amid the splendour of eighteenth-century Venice. He became a priest as a young man, but devoted his life to music, and made his name as a gifted teacher. In concerts he excelled as a brilliant violinist. But above all, he was an original and exciting composer, of concertos, church music and opera. Audiences tired of Vivaldi’s musical style during his lifetime, and he died poor and alone in Vienna. But in recent years, his greatness has been recognized once more.
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Discovered as a young boy in the early years of the 20th century, Krishnamurti was proclaimed a new world leader by Members of the Theosophical Society and, by the 1920s, was attracting worldwide press attention. Idealists, spiritual adventurers, intellectuals and philosopher alike flocked to his talks in their thousands, drawn to the idea of a new golden age and an esoteric Eastern saviour. Later Krishnamurti experienced a mysterious conversation, rejected the Theosophical Society that had moulded his identity and began to teach as a secular philosopher of spiritual nature, but with no affiliation to any sect. He rejected any claims to being a Messiah and indeed proved himself as capable of human weakness which gave rise to sexual scandal and accusations of chicanery. Krishnamurti died in 1986 having founded seven schools, published fifty books and toured the world talking and teaching.
A DARK ENCHANTMENT – Buy it here
Greece, 1869 Godwin Tudor, a young English photographer recently arrived in Athens, is intrigued by the mysterious and maverick British landowner Edgar Brooke, whose vast estate dominates the island of Pyroxenia. Whilst visiting Brooke’s remote home, Godwin is enchanted by the breathtaking landscape and his host’s capricious young daughter Lydia. But all is not as it seems as inadvertently Godwin finds himself drawn into the centre of a dangerous political conspiracy. As events spiral out of control, Godwin does his best to play the diplomat in a terrifying international incident but the consequences prove more devastating than he can imagine. A maelstrom of romance, political intrigue and life-or-death drama, A Dark Enchantment marks the debut of an exciting new storyteller.
“This hugely enjoyable novel fairly rattles along at an ever-increasing page-turning rate . . . Vernon writes with all the assurance of an old pro, strong on character and good at finding the telling detail, and is definitely a name to watch.” Daily Mail
“A wonderful debut novel that completely transports you to another time and place . . . richly rewarding.” Sunday Express
UK PUBLISHER: Doubleday
PUBLICATION DATE: 7th April 2008
THE MAESTRO’S VOICE — Buy it here
New York, 1926. Rocco Campobello, the great tenor – one of the most revered entertainers in the world – collapses on stage. He emerges from this brush with death a changed man: a fallen, but enlightened colossus, Casting off the mantle of celebrity, he embarks on a journey into his dark and sinister past which takes him back to his impoverished early life and to the city that made him: Naples. There he is forced to confront the truth about himself, his ruthlessness and treachery and to address ghosts from his past that he now seeks to lay to rest. Magnificent, flamboyant, yet impoverished and decaying, Naples is a city caught in the throes of change. The old ways, embodied in the activities of the camorra, the Italian mafia, are fighting to survive in the face of the brutal new poltics of Mussolini and his Fascists. Don Graziani, head of one of the city’s most respected – and fear – families, has much to lose if the great tenor’s career falls apart. In league with Campobello’s near-estranged wife, he conspires to re-launch the great voice in magnificent fashion. When persuasion fails, he reveals his true colours and resorts to brutal blackmail as the means to force the tenor to go along with their plans and return to the stage. Rediscovering his own integrity, Campobello is compelled to hatch a dangerous counter plot of his own in order to outmanoeuvre them all and reclaim his life as his own… The Maestro’s Voice weaves a rich and evocative path through a world of celebrity glamour, stinging violence, musical supremacy and scarred psyches.
PUBLISHER: Black Swan
PUBLICATION DATE: 15th April 2010
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One of a series, which looks at the influences and historical events that shaped the lives of the great composers. Making full use of contemporary works of art, these books provide an essential introduction to the lives of those who produced some of the world’s most enduring music. This book focuses on Ludwig von Beethoven who was born into a changing world. His lifetime saw great revolutions sweep America and France, the rise and fall of Napoleon and the coming of the railways and the Industrial Revolution. From the majesty of the great symphonies to the intimacy of the late quartets, Beethoven’s music mirrors these turbulent times, as well as providing a deeply personal exploration of human nature. Beethoven profoundly changed every form of music in which he worked. He was a revolutionary in revolutionary times.
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This volume is one of a series, which looks at the influences and historical events that shaped the lives of the great composers. Making full use of contemporary works of art, these books provide an essential introduction to the lives of those who produced some of the world’s most enduring music. This book focuses on Johann Sebastian Bach, who had a musical intellect of great breadth and clarity. From a family of professional musicians, Bach was industrious, obstinate, hot-tempered and single-minded in his search for perfection. Four of his twenty children became eminent musicians themselves and ensured that Bach survived the obscurity traditionally afforded dead musicians. Following his life through from his early years as a brilliant pupil this book reveals how in his formative years Bach wanted to write music that would “exalt the glory of God”. Despite being a musician of sacred music he was to be influenced by the Baroque movement during which period he created such work as “The Magnificat”. In July 1708, Bach was appointed court organist and chamber musician to Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Saxe-Weimar. Having become a celebrity he was soon made Kapellmeister to Prince Leopold of Anhalt Cothen. Here he was seldom asked to write church works and so he began to experiment with instrumental music. During this period Bach wrote six concertos dedicated to the Margrave of Brandenburg which as the “Brandenburg Concertos” are some of the greatest pieces Bach composed. He then applied for the post as cantor at St Thomas Church in Leipsig where he directed and performed for 27 years. Here he was given the chance to perform really large-scale works using choirs, orchestra, soloists, keyboard players and virtuoso instrumentalists. In Bach’s latter years he was given a royal appointment but he died in 1750. It was 100 years later that Mendelssohn revived interest in his work with the “St Matthew Passion.”
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Focusing on Chopin, this book is one of a series, which sets famous composers within the context of the times in which they lived. Revolution, the Enlightenment, the rise of Fascism, the fashion of the times – all of these influenced them as they struggled to write their music. Frederic Chopin was born in 19th century Poland and his musical talent became obvious at an early age. He grew up to be an outstanding pianist and a brilliant composer for the piano, an instrument he understood uniquely well. His music is full of strong feeling and typical of the artistic era in which he lived, the age of the Romantics. Chopin lived much of his life in Paris, the capital of European music at the time. He lived at an exciting time when people were rising up in revolution and beginning to express themselves more freely. His music allowed pianists to show off their brilliance at the same time as expressing their deep feeling.
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Set within the context of the times in which he lived, this book which is one of a series, focuses on Gershwin. He was a street kid from the poor side of New York who from an early age was determined to succeed. Through hard work and talent he made a dazzling career for himself on Broadway. He became a star at an exciting time in America’s history, but this wasn’t enough. Gershwin wanted to be remembered as a composer of serious music. In this work he created a new kind of American music that has lasted beyond the fashion of time. When film with sound began to be shown in the 1930s audiences preferred to go the cinema rather than the theatre. Soon many actors and musicians including Gershwin, who,left New York in 1936, were attracted to Hollywood. The following year he developed a brain tumour and died.
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Stravinsky is considered by some to be the greatest composer of the 20th century. This book which is one of a series, sets famous composers within the context of the times in which they lived, and looks at the influences and historical events that shaped their lives. Stravinsky’s first influence was the traditional music of his homeland, Russia. But he grew to be an adventurous composer, an international champion of modern music. During his long life, much of it spent in France and the United States, he wrote a variety of works, from ballets to symphonies. His style often changed, but was always precise and intellectual. This kept him at the cutting edge of music for nearly 60 years.
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Opera was hugely popular during the nineteenth century, especially in Italy. Of all Italy’s opera composers, the greatest and most loved was Verdi. This book which is one of a series sets famous composers within the context of the times in which they lived, and looks at the influences and historical events that shaped their lives. Verdi was a man of the theatre. He understood how music could be used to create powerful drama and he had a great gift for matching poetry to tunes. His career as a composer lasted 60 years. During this time he kept alive the glorious tradition of Italian opera single-handedly. Verdi was also a patriot and his music encouraged fellow Italians to rebel against their foreign rulers. Although he became an important public figure and a national hero, he was also a very private person. He did not like interference and was deaf to both praise and criticism. He stubbornly believed in himself and in his own music. This eventually won him the respect of the world.