About Work for Four Hands

Work for Four Hands cover

Benedict Vern and Alison Buxton should have been playing piano duets as long as they lived, but forty years ago something happened to stop the music. What must happen to make the music start again? And what will be the consequences if it doesn't?

The weather matches Alison's mood as she drives through a downpour to her aunt's funeral in the Wiltshire village of Hasfont, a place with associations for her. Ever since the day she last saw her cousin Benedict she's avoided going there. If she hadn't discovered that a business commitment was keeping him away from the funeral, she wouldn't have ventured near Hasfont at all. What happened in their aunt's house on that day forty years ago, when she was eleven and he fifteen? And why, against all his better judgement, does Benedict turn up at the funeral after all?

In the weeks which follow, Alison battles to keep vital memories repressed when Benedict tries to stay in touch. She is plagued by flashbacks, scenes from the past which keep breaking into her consciousness in spite of all her efforts to stop them:

...A boy. Very tall, almost a man. A boy standing by a window, sunlight gilding his shoulder and thigh. Blood streaming down his cheek. A girl crouched on a bed, blood on her nails, blood on the counterpane held to just-hatched breasts, gasps pulling her chest apart. The door opening. A woman coming in. Looking at the girl, looking at the boy. Colour leaching from her face. The girl crying, weeping, wailing. The world ending...

Is Alison the woman she takes herself to be? Maybe the flashbacks have something to teach her – if she can bear to let them.

Benedict, meanwhile, thinks himself mad for waking his old demons. Each of them reckons without the power of music: the music Benedict used to play for Alison in the past, and the music he finds himself playing for her now.

Their dead Aunt Alys alone knew the truth of what happened between Alison and Benedict. They each hear her voice at critical junctures: a psychic trick conjured up by the mind, or a whiff of the supernatural? Or both? Readers might like to make their own choices.

Music in Work For Four Hands

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