FICTION by FIONA COMPTON

The four novels in the Malcolm Craig series are a mixture of Roman à clef, and biographical-autobiographical novel, in other words, a novel about real life, overlaid with a façade of fiction. The four novels in the Malcolm Craig series are broadly based on fact, but many incidents are purely products of my imagination and do not pretend to be true.

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Derek Bailey is one of Britain’s finest tenors. He never forgets Elspeth McPhail, the young Scottish house-keeper who worked for him when he was starting his career in the thirties. Although he becomes famous and successful, his personal life is far from fulfilling. This novel covers Derek’s professional and personal life over a span of forty years including his two unsatisfactory marriages and his five-year affair with a young woman forty years his junior. This book was first written in 1977 and lay, half-forgotten, in a drawer for over thirty years. Fiona Compton took it out and revised it in 2010 and eventually published it. It was her first work of fiction and her first novel.

The review of the novel was written by translator and proofreader, PEARL HARRIS when the book was first published on Aug 21, 2010. Once I started reading Fiona Compton’s romantic novel, I could not put it down. I soon became involved in the emotions and events of the main characters’ lives. Derek Bailey attracts females and trouble wherever he goes, due to his charisma and talent. How the women in his life deal with subsequent events must touch a chord in the heart of every female reader who has ever fallen prey to the charms of a philanderer. The writing style is flowing and the dialogue authentic. Place descriptions set the scene firmly in 20th-century Britain. I particularly enjoyed the Scottish dialect (the author having been born in Scotland, this too is genuine!)and the descriptions of daily life in London. This is no run-of-the-mill romantic novel. Due to the author’s musical knowledge, “I can’t forget you” has a depth and authenticity lacking in most novels of this genre. You will not want to put this book down before discovering what the final outcome of the hero’s romantic entanglements is to be.

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Although this collection of fifteen short stories is fictional, it reflects Fiona Compton’s wide experience of life. Thus there are stories about singers and accompanists, teachers and pupils, and older people trying to adjust to inevitable changes in their lives. Stories are set in South Africa and Britain, and take place on board ship, in schools, homes, studios or theatres. Several stories are loosely based on particular incidents in her life, but are still fiction rather than fact, such as Dux Scholar, Wise Words in the Chippy, Michelle, By Appointment, and The Song is Ended.

REVIEW:    By Pearl Harris Oct 12, 2015

Each short story in this collection is refreshingly different and will touch a chord in the heart of most female readers. All the characters are masterfully and realistically portrayed. Many of the incidents depicted are those which affect all women at various times in their lives and with which the reader can readily empathise. Some stories bring a chuckle and a feeling of optimism, others a feeling of sadness. All left a lasting impression on me. Fiona Compton’s voice is a charming mix, evidence of her Scottish, South African and musical roots. These stories particularly appeal to me as an expatriate South African, as many of them richly evoke the South African lifestyle. However, all are timeless in their own right and certainly worth reading by both women and men, whatever their nationality.

This review was provided by mjpotenza: Any fan of short stories will enjoy this selection of entertaining tales by Fiona Compton. The author presents women’s viewpoints, emotions, and experiences accurately and uniquely. The women characters are interesting, complex, and sympathetic (the men are mostly cads). One wonders how much is autobiographical. The writing is descriptive and precise. The style flows nicely, making for easy and pleasant reading. The Wedding Singer, Miss Stratton Disappears, and The Sunset Gleams, to name a few, all have the right combination of humour and sadness. In short, these well-written stories are very enjoyable. 

List Price:$15.00 Price:$13.50 You Save: $1.50 ( 10% )Prints in 3-5 business days, Just the Echo of a Sigh and Faint Harmony concentrate on the life and career of famous British tenor, Malcolm Craig and his tumultuous private life. He marries three times, but none of his marriages work out well. Even his third “perfect” marriage to soprano Marina Dunbar who becomes his singing partner, has many problems. The four novels in the Malcolm Craig series are a mixture of Roman à clef, and biographical-autobiographical novel, in other words, a novel about real life, overlaid with a façade of fiction. The four novels in the Malcolm Craig series are broadly based on fact, but many incidents are purely products of my imagination and do not pretend to be true. The first two novels included in this volume are based on my knowledge and research into the lives of “Malcolm Craig” and “Marina Dunbar” before I met them, overlaid with many fictional elements.

Pearl Harris wrote: I thoroughly enjoyed Just the Echo of a Sigh – the first in a series about famous English tenor, Malcolm Craig, and his complicated love life. Obviously written by an author with extensive musical knowledge, the novel transports the reader back to the era in Britain before World War II, with rare glimpses into the lifestyle of those times. Ms. Compton has a rare gift – she brings her characters to life through their dialogue and her fine description. I look forward to reading many more of her novels.

By Pearl Harris, Oct 14, 2015: Having thoroughly enjoyed Just the Echo of a Sigh – the first in this series by Fiona Compton – I could not put Faint Harmony down until the last line. Ms. Compton’s characters are living and breathing – and her knowledge of the musical scene in Britain after the beginning of World War 2 lends authenticity to the description of her characters and of those times. I can highly recommend all 3 novels in this series to readers, with interests especially in music, Britain, South Africa and the not always idyllic lives of the rich and famous.

Love Set to Music/A Song for You and Me (Volumes 3 and 4 of THE MALCOLM CRAIG SERIES)

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Love Set to Music and A Song for You and Me, the last two novels in the Malcolm Craig series are set in South Africa from 1956 to 1966. Malcolm Craig and Marina Dunbar settle in the country after problems with the Inland Revenue in the United Kingdom. They open a studio in Johannesburg and start teaching in addition to their theatre work. Despite the “sweethearts of song” image of their marriage, their relationship remains stormy but matters are eventually resolved in a highly unexpected way. These last two novels are largely based on my own private experiences which I have recreated as fiction thanks to my memories, contemporary diaries, and a fair share of imagination. As to the “key” of these novels – some might work it out for themselves but I will never disclose it to anyone as long as I live!

REVIEW: By Pearl Harris
Oct 12, 2015, I highly recommend all 3 novels in this series by Fiona Compton. In her easy flowing style, the author draws the reader into the lives of the various characters and the environment in which their destinies cross. I could empathise with the emotions experienced by the vulnerable young Kate and did not stop reading until the last line. I await the 4th novel in this series…..

By Pearl Harris
Jan 13, 2016 I read the 4th in this series without being able to stop until the very last line. Fiona Compton traces the thoughts and emotions of her various characters realistically and with special insight. Seeing the story unfold from the different viewpoints makes fascinating reading. I highly recommend this competent novelist and hope to see more of her writing in future.

Fiona Compton/Jean Collen 11 April 2019

Read about the books at: FIONA’S STORE:

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