Dismissing the cliches of Great Art and scathing in its rejection of the romantic conflation of madness and creativity, Clara takes as its heart an examination of the place of love in a life of increasing isolation and alienation.
In a radical departure from her previous work, Janice Galloway’s new novel is based on the life of Clara Schumann: celebrated nineteenth-century concert pianist and composer, editor and teacher, friend of Brahms – who was also the wife of Robert Schumann, the mother of his eight children, and the woman who cared for him through a series of crippling mental illnesses. Whilst also being a meticulously researched account of two remarkable and highly dramatic musical careers, this is a novel primarily about timeless, common things: about the inescapable influences of childhood, about creativity and marital life, about communication and silence, about how art is made and how art, in turn, may erode or save the life that nourishes it. Dismissing the cliches of Great Art and scathing in its rejection of the romantic conflation of Madness and Creativity, Clara takes as its heart an examination of the place of love in a life of increasing isolation and alienation. Luminously written, mordantly political and disturbingly honest, Clara asks how we make a pattern of the world, what it means to be Good or Great, how scarifying choices are made, and how we endure.