Alfred Busi, aging local singer, lives alone in his villa by the ocean. He’s lived in the house his entire life, but it’s empty now, since the death of his wife, except for himself and his piano. One night, after hearing noises in the courtyard, he’s attacked, bitten, and scratched. He never sees his attacker, but he feels it wasn’t an animal. And not wholly a man.
Bui’s account of the attack is exaggerated and used to revitalize the public outcry against the destitute and animals living in a public park. When the issue grows beyond him, Busi retreats, trying to decide if he will sing again, while still struggling to come to terms with his wife’s death several years before.
I was very intrigued by the idea of this mysterious attack by an unknown creature. That’s why I wanted to read this novel. But…I almost stopped reading before the attack even happened. And I kind of wish I had.
While the writing is lyrical and Busi is a semi-interesting character, this was a very slow read. And, frankly, I don’t feel like the author delivered on the promise he made. The synopsis of the story is focused on the attack and the mystery surrounding it, but it was a side-note in the book, with the rest of the novel centered on Busi’s internal struggles.
Jim Crace is an award-winning English author. The Melody is his newest novel.
(Galley provided by Doubleday in exchange for an honest review.)