Libertango…. by SJV
2018/04/04  |  By:   |  Features  |  

Like many things, musical tastes are deeply personal – very much like preferring a culotte over a jegging, brown toast over white, a cosy crime novel over a literary classic. There is no right or wrong, just a trillion shades of grey.

I, for example, would always take a dirty base over a guitar solo.  Except of course when I wouldn’t.

Take this morning’s shuffle playlist: like most sensible people, I’ve been rinsing All the Stars and Pray for Me by Kendrick Lamar from the Black Panther score and Mi Gente by some chap called J Balvin. Each track makes my head nod, my pulse race, my feet tap, my shoulders shrug and my heart soar. But I also threw in a touch of Rose Rouge by St Germain, Alessia Cara Here, the Prince classic When Doves Cry, Kwabs Perfect Ruin, (my wedding song) Someone To Watch Over Me by Nancy Wilson, En Vogue Hold On and Count Basie April in Paris.

See? Fickle. Eclectic? A total change-my-mind-Charlie.

Where’s she going with this you may ask? Well, let me tell you.

Whilst I was away on a little ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ Easter break last week, the stunning proofs for the debut novel by Anstey Harris – the magnificent The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton – arrived at TeamBATC HQ ready for LBF. Those of you who came to our Spring Blogger Evening 2018 will remember Anstey reading a super short 1 minute extract from the book and hearing her tell Jo Dickinson about the important role music plays in both the life of Grace herself and the novel as a whole. And those of you who couldn’t make Spring Blogger Evening have hopefully now received your special sampler proof (shout if not!) containing the very first chapter of the book?

And here’s where I get to the point.

I was lucky enough to read the book in early manuscript form back in December last year and loved it so much it made my #BOTY2017 list!  For fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and The Keeper of Lost Things, it’s the story of a woman who has her heart broken, but puts in back together again in the most uplifting and exquisite way.


Between the simple melody of running her violin shop and the full-blown orchestra of her romantic interludes in Paris with David, her devoted partner of eight years, Grace Atherton has always set her life to music.

Her world revolves entirely around David, for Grace’s own secrets have kept everyone else at bay. Until, suddenly and shockingly, one act tips Grace’s life upside down, and the music seems to stop.

It takes a vivacious old man and a straight-talking teenager to kickstart a new chapter for Grace. In the process, she learns that she is not as alone in the world as she had once thought, that no mistake is insurmountable, and that the quiet moments in life can be something to shout about …

Reading the book absolutely reignited my love of classical and opera  – the classic classical tracks we all recognise from movie soundtracks, adverts and ice dancing – La Traviata, Barber of Seville, Air On The G String, Bolero, Ave Maria, Carmina Burana, Carmen, O Mio Babbino Caro, Chorus of Hebrew Slaves, Madam Butterfly, String Quartet in E – and introduced me to a track I had never heard before – Libertango – an Argentinean tango ‘seething with passion and darkness’.

This is what the Libertango was written for.

For defiance.

For the hot air, the vivid sun.

For lost lovers returning.


So, over the next couple of days I’ll be mailing out these very special, very early proof copies of #GraceTriumphs and asking you to listen to Libertango whilst you read.  Never before has a piece of music helped me ‘place’ a character, a mood, a feeling, an emotion in such a way.  I feel I know Grace all the better for listening while reading.  I hope you will too….

The Truths and Triumphs