The Great Passion
A SUNDAY TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR
‘A masterpiece’ SCOTSMAN
‘A wise, refreshing novel … Runcie has an expert imagination’ HILARY MANTEL
‘A masterclass in writing about the power of music and grief’ THE TIMES, 100 best books for summer 2022
Love and Death.
Grief and Joy.
Music that lasts forever.
Leipzig, 1726. Eleven-year-old Stefan Silbermann has just lost his mother. Sent to Leipzig to train as a singer in the St Thomas Church choir, he is rescued from his homesickness and grief by the Cantor: Johann Sebastian Bach himself. Stefan is brought into the Bach household as an apprentice – until a devastating loss brings his period of sanctuary to a close.
Something is happening, though. In the depths of his loss, the Cantor is writing a new work. As Stefan watches the work rehearsed, he realises he is witness to the creation of one of the most extraordinary pieces of music that has ever been written.
‘Brilliant … Readers will be enriched by this novel and its glimpse at genius’ The Times, Historical Fiction of the Month
‘Warmly, reverently, Runcie brings alive what it is like to take part, for the very first time, in one of the most extraordinary pieces of music ever written’ Daily Telegraph
A beautifully calibrated novel ... Bach emerges as an intense, flawed, deeply religious man, and through a poignant exploration of grief and love, Runcie brings his glorious music thrillingly to life * MAIL ON SUNDAY * A riveting meditation on grief and the possibilities of music * SUNDAY TIMES, Best Books of 2022: Historical Fiction * A novel which deserves to last and will surely do so. It is surely James Runcie's masterwork, a novel written with love and understanding * SCOTSMAN * Runcie is brilliant at chronicling Bach's mission to take the messiness of grief and love and turn them into something beautiful and sacred. Even readers as tone-deaf as I am will be enriched by this novel and its glimpse at genius * THE TIMES, Historical Fiction of the Month * This wise, refreshing novel takes us to the heart of Bach's life and work. James Runcie's expert imagination makes his picture of Leipzig specific and convincing, and behind the music's echo lies a touching human story. It offers a glimpse into a world more faithful and attentive than our own, but not alien to us: "we listen to music as survivors," the great Cantor says -- HILARY MANTEL To conjure him as a man, a writer needs to focus very sharply, and, whether in his bestselling Grantchester stories or award-winning documentaries, Runcie is expert at focus ... Warmly, reverently, Runcie bring s alive what it is like to take part, for the very first time, in one of the most extraordinary pieces of music ever written * DAILY TELEGRAPH * In this moving and fascinating portrait of a rare moment in musical history, Runcie turns a legend into a real man, compellingly unveiling the intricate connection between passion, grief and the greatest art. Careful research and beautiful writing make this a memorable and rewarding read -- LUCY JAGO The Great Passion is a novel revering the life and work of JS Bach, as told by a young boy soprano in Leipzig * IRISH INDEPENDENT, BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2022 * This is historical fiction of the highest order ... intricate and accessible * PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, starred review * I loved this book. Runcie's description of the familiar music being rehearsed and performed for the first time is extraordinary * CHURCH TIMES * Like the St Matthew Passion, this is a novel filled not just with loss and lamentation but with transcendent joy. Runcie's prose sings. Soli Deo gloria! * SAGA MAGAZINE * Wonderfully imagined * COUNTRY LIVING * A delightful novel filled with warmth, music, and an obvious love of Bach * KIRKUS * Praise for James Runcie: 'Runcie has the gift of the born storyteller * DAILY MAIL * Tremendous: shrewd, compelling and full of insight -- WILLIAM BOYD A triumph of inspired imagination * FINANCIAL TIMES * It's a warm, tender novel, brimful of emotion and empathy, as the fascinating characters grapple with faith, feelings and fellowship. But it's Runcie's description of the music that is truly marvellous. Intoxicating, insightful and revelatory, he brilliantly tackles the difficult task of using words to capture the intricacies of Bach's fervent work on the beautiful, groundbreaking masterpiece, St Matthew Passion * DAILY MAIL * Runcie ... has a gift for capturing the past * INDEPENDENT.CO.UK *
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