“The final Cornish Trilogy novel from an author who “tells terrific stories that twist around and double back on themselves in surprising ways” (The New York Times).
There is an important decision to be made. The Cornish Foundation is thriving under the directorship of Arthur Cornish when Arthur and his beguiling wife, Maria Theotoky, decide to undertake a project worthy of Francis Cornish—connoisseur, collector, and notable eccentric—whose vast fortune endows the Foundation. The grumpy, grimy, extraordinarily talented music student Hulda Schnakenburg is commissioned to complete E.T.A. Hoffmann’s unfinished opera Arthur of Britain, or The Magnanimous Cuckold; and the scholarly priest Simon Darcourt finds himself charged with writing the libretto.
Complications both practical and emotional arise: the passion in Maria’s blood rises with a vengeance; Darcourt stoops to petty crime; and various others indulge in perjury, blackmail, and other unsavory pursuits. Hoffmann’s dictum, “the lyre of Orpheus opens the door of the underworld,” seems to be all too true—especially when the long-hidden secrets of Francis Cornish himself are finally revealed.
“Davies once again delivers the goods—with this solidly entertaining finale … Blending a characteristic knack for wit, esoterica, and snobbery, Davies charges ahead with a buoyant tale of upper-class grantsmanship and modern-day cuckoldry … A spry jaunt from an old master—once again in full command of the form.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Packed with interesting details of opera history and production . . . intelligent observations and playful allusions.”—Publishers Weekly
“With his wonderfully complex yet controlled plot, deft portrayal of eccentric characters, and great wit, Davies effectively satirizes the world of universities and foundations.”—Library Journal