Barry Douglas is a “classical” pianist from Ireland. I’ve put classical in quotes because although what he plays is classical in sound, the music actually comes from Celtic tradition rather than the classical canon.
“The Coolin” (An Chúileann) translates to “The Fair-Haired Girl” and dates to around 1641. His arrangement has a very baroque feel (he is actually a classical pianist, too), which gives the traditional song a more regal air.
He follows that lovely delicate song with “Planxty Dylan.” Planxty is an Irish dance. He says that harpists would travel around Ireland and people would look after them. The harpist would then thank the homeowner by writing a song named after the home where they stayed. This romp of a dance (at only about 1 minute long) was dedicated to the house of Dylan.
From playing a planxty to the band Planxty. Douglas has arranged the Planxty song “Raggle Taggle Gypsy” for solo piano. It has been around since the 18th century. Planxty made it more famous as a vocal song (which I know) but Douglas’ piano version has a lot of fun with the melody as well. The melody is also known as “Black Jack Davy.”
“My Lagan Love” is about the River Lagan in Donegal (there are actually four Lagan Rivers in Ireland). The melody and poem were written by unknown persons. Douglas arranged this without words in an attempt to make it more timeless. I know the original and this is a really lovely in this instrumental version.
I can say that I was pleasantly surprised to hear this was the kind of solo music that Douglas was going to play.
[READ: April 2, 2016] The Undertaking of Lily Chen
The whole premise behind this story is disturbing and apparently true.
Novgorodoff includes a section of an article from 2007 which says that parts of rural China have seen the rise of “ghost marriages.” In this situation, when an unmarried an dies, his parents procure the body of a woman, hold a wedding and then bury them together. This has led to a black market in corpse brides. EW!
This story explores that revolting concept.
As the story opens we see two brothers fighting at an airfield. One is dressed as a pilot the other (who is likely drunk) is dressed in a T-shirt. The fight goes on and then the T-shirted man is hit by a car and killed.
The story then gives a history of a corpse bride ceremony starting in 208 AD.
Then we learn a bit more about the two men who were fighting. They were brothers and their family is devastated because the boy who was killed–Wei–was the first-born. His parents wail and gnash their teeth and even say that it should have been the remaining boy who died. And then they send him out to find a corpse bride within two days.
He procures the help of a man who is pretty sketchy and together they dig up a grave. But he woman is too long dead and the boy says he could never bring this corpse home.
Meanwhile, we flashback to the titular character. Lily Chen is a young girl who lives at home wither her parents in a very rural area. As we zoom in on them, we learn that their farm is about to be taken away–their 20 year lease is up and there’s no way they can afford to renew it. The solicitor says that if Lily considered marrying him, he might be swayed more, but there’s no chance of that.
While the boy is wandering around he catches sight of Lily. Lily is really beautiful, but he imagines killing her for his brother. Then she notices him and his mule and upon hearing the obnoxious cried of her father, she decides to run away from home with the boy (much to his surprise).
The two go on a length journey together, Meanwhile, Lily’s father is furious and hunts her down. At the same time, the questionable guy who helped to dig up the body wants to finish the job that started with the boy. So everyone is looking for the two of them.
The boy is still considering killing Lily when he has the chance, but he actually finds that he is starting to like her (although she talks way too much).
They meet some more unsavory characters and then a convergence of all of the above people. The story could go in several directions, and I rather like the one she chose.
I’m used to Novgorodoff’s artistic style (this is the third book of hers that I’ve read). her books usually feel like delicate watercolors; however, this one has a much more typical graphic novel style. There are still watercolor elements but the characters are all drawn out and colored with ink.
It’s funny how beautiful she makes Lily when all the men are so weird-looking.
Clearly, Novogodrofff is not afraid to tackle dark subjects.