First Night by Jane Aiken Hodge
1802. Peace is breaking out in Europe, and two young women set out to seek their fortune there.

A strange pair! American Martha is rich, plain, strong-minded and tired of fortune-hunters, English Cristabel is a duke’s unwanted daughter with the voice of an angel - or a Prima Donna. She made her debut as a child in the small principality of Lissenberg, and, when the fortunes of Napoleon’s renewed wars take the two of them there, she plunges into both opera and an old love. But nothing is stable in Napoleon’s Europe, or in Lissenberg, playground of a tyrant prince.

There is a whiff of danger always in the air, a cold breath from the dungeons deep in the mountain between the Prince’s Palace and his Opera House. Twenty-five years of tyranny are to be celebrated with a new opera, but whose libretto will be chosen? Cristabel’s prince and Martha’s plebeian are both competitors, but more hangs on the opera’s first performance than either Martha or Cristabel can guess.

In First Night Jane Aiken Hodge has conjured up a world where the hazards of Napoleonic power politics are mixed with the glamour of early nineteenth-century opera, to create a sparkling and fast-paced story which keeps the reader guessing to the last page.

Hardcover 1989 first edition

Ex-library book

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First Night by Jane Aiken Hodge

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