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June 21, 2016

Book Notes - Flynn Berry "Under the Harrow"

Under the Harrow

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Flynn Berry's Under the Harrow is an impressive psychological thriller.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"Berry accomplishes the rare feat of making the victim come alive on the page without ever sacrificing the deep, all-encompassing loss felt by those left behind."

In her own words, here is Flynn Berry's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel Under the Harrow:

Under the Harrow is a novel about a woman, Nora, investigating her sister Rachel's murder.

"Golden Brown," The Stranglers

This song describes Nora's life in London. It's bright and splashy, like something from a sixties heist film. Never a frown with golden brown. It reminds me of moving to a new city and being completely taken with it.

"New in Town," Little Boots

Nora and Rachel are reckless, the way that most of my friends have been reckless. Going out is a big part of their relationship, as teenagers in a small town in northern England, and after they move to London. Both of them are very fond of nightlife, especially the before and after bits: the cheap minicab to a party, the kebab afterwards.

This is the last song they play before leaving to go out, and if it comes on at a bar they lose their minds.

"I Follow Rivers (The Magician Remix)," Lykke Li

See above.

"Champagne Coast," Blood Orange

A song for driving on the Westway through London late at night. One of the characters, Lewis, was a musician, and he wrote similar songs.

"Can't Nobody Love You," The Zombies

At the start of the novel, Rachel lives in an old house in the countryside outside Oxford. Nora often comes to visit her, and this is the sort of song they listen to at home.

"The Swimmer," Max Richter

I listened to this song about one million times while writing Under the Harrow. It's gorgeous, and seems to pool around you. My hope is that reading the book will be like listening to this song, which is sweeping and seductive.

"Sweetheart Come," Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Nora misses her sister, and this pleading song captures grief so well. Especially the chorus, when he sings sweetheart come again and again. It's completely stricken, but that level of devotion to someone else is also thrilling.

"Love is Blind," Eve

I did a lot of research for this book about violence against women, and it made me furious.

This is the best revenge song. I don't even know you and I hate you. See all I know is that my girlfriend used to date you. During her investigation, Nora becomes more and more dangerous, like Eve's avenger.

Flynn Berry and Under the Harrow links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book
excerpt from the book

Kirkus review
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel review
Publishers Weekly review
Wall Street Journal review
Washington Post review

also at Largehearted Boy:

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