The significance of the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book to our musical canon is well known; the remarkable story of its copyist and compiler, Francis Tregian, less so. Born into Cornish Catholic nobility and plumb into the choppy waters of the Elizabethan Age, he must rely on his surpassing skill as a musician to survive.
In this Prix des Libraires (Booksellers Prize) winning novel, Anne Cuneo deftly recreates the musician’s journey across Renaissance Europe, which sees him befriending Shakespeare, swapping scores with William Byrd and Monteverdi, and playing in the court of Henri IV of France.
The result is as gripping as it is authentic: an epic, transcontinental choreography in which Europe’s monarchs tussle with pretenders to their thrones, and ordinary people steer between allegiances to God, nation and family.Read an Excerpt
- Download the Reading Group Guide, with an introduction and questions written by the author herself.
- Read more about Anne Cuneo here.
- Translated by Roland Glasser, who has published over twenty translations from French, and Louise Rogers Lalaurie, whose translation of Olivier Truc’s crime début Forty Days Without Shadow was shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger in 2014.
World Literature Today
‘Francis Tregian’s extraordinary journeys through war-torn Europe keep readers riveted to the page and on the edge of their seats.’
‘Anne Cuneo’s magnificent book offers a humanist investigation of the most discerning kind.’
‘His adventures transport us, with a jangle of spurs, from one conspiracy to another, from Shakespeare in his playhouse, to the battle camp of his good mate Henri IV. At the invitation of Tregian’s novelist biographer, no reader could fail to be swept up in the excitement.’
Classical Music Magazine
‘Tregian’s Ground certainly has many cinematic qualities – of the best kind . . . The vivid, free-flowing translation here is by Louise Rogers Lalaurie and Roland Glasser. This more than does justice to what is a marvelously rich and multi-layered piece of work . . . Serious students of either history or music are not going to be disappointed here.’
Los Angeles Review of Books
‘This novel is based on a historical figure and, as is the typical benchmark for works in the genre, Cuneo’s empathetic and informed immersion into Tregian’s world gives the novel its claim to prestige. Cuneo handles the historical detail with a deft touch — it is sufficient but not excessive — and intersperses it well with vivacious dialogue and an authoritative, carefully researched knowledge of old London.’