Finalist for the 2020 New Brunswick Book Awards, Mrs. Dunster’s Fiction Book Prize
Symphony No. 3 follows the life of renowned French composer Camille Saint-Saëns as he ascends from child prodigy to worldwide fame. As his acclaim grows in Paris, the musical world around him clamours with competitors, dilettantes, turncoats, and revenge seekers. At the height of his success, Camille leaves everything behind to embark on a Dantean quest to discover the truth about his dead lover, Henri. At the end of this adventure, still haunted by the holes in his past, he takes up an invitation to journey by ocean-liner to the New World.
Finely crafted in its own unique rhythmic language, Symphony No. 3 is cast in four sections to mirror Saint-Saëns’s famous work, popularly known as the Organ Symphony, and is told through the perspective of his devoted twin brother who may or may not be imaginary.
Though set in the decades surrounding the fin de siècle, Symphony No. 3 speaks directly to our present moment and the rise of political violence.
Watch the Book Launch and Reading:
Praise for Symphony No. 3
“Symphony No. 3 is not only a vibrant dramatization of the life of Camille Saint-Saëns, but also a profound meditation on the place of music in culture, and of the tension between art and life. Eaton’s language is orchestral in range, and there are wise epigrams worthy of Wilde (“people who believe too much know nothing; people who know too much believe nothing”). The novel is rich in period detail, along with some imaginative departures from the historical record. Like the organ work for which it is named, Symphony No. 3 is a sumptuous achievement.”
—Steven Moore, author of The Novel: An Alternative History
“Music is more than the topic of discussion here: Eaton’s style and form are music. With sentences ranging from playful to brutal, tender to devastating, this book can hit registers most can’t. Open your ears to it: it’s worth a listen.” —Hayden Bennett, Deputy Editor at The Believer
New Brunswick Book Awards, The Mrs. Dunster’s Fiction Book Prize, Jury Citation:
“The life of 19th century French composer Camille Saint-Saëns is imaginatively rendered in this novel, told from the point of view of his (fictional) twin brother—a premise which allows Eaton to play with metafictional elements, imagine interactions between historical figures, and expound on complex ideas. Eaton’s sentences are crafted with the ear of a musician, and the careful reader is rewarded for delving into their intricacies.”
Fall Books Preview 2019: Novels —Quill and Quire
Most Anticipated: 2019 Fall Fiction Preview —49th Shelf
12 Books You Should Read This October —LitHub
Vol.1 Brooklyn’s October 2019 Book Preview —Vol. 1 Brooklyn
“One of the year’s finest novels, symphonic in structure and spectacular on a sentence level.” —David Gutowski, Largehearted Boy
Chris Eaton’s Playlist for His Novel Symphony No. 3 —Largehearted Boy
“Did You Know a Lion’s Heart Never Grows?” Read an Excerpt from Chris Eaton’ Musical Novel, Symphony No. 3 —Open Book
“Impressive, filled with diverse, imaginative prose and grounded in a connection to today.” —The Harvard Crimson
“A fantastically fictional account of the life and times of this prodigy with a divisive temperament… Ornate, flamboyant, assertively make-believe.” —Brett Josef Grubisic, The Toronto Star
Favorite Novels of 2019 —Largehearted Boy
“Symphony No. 3 is a thought experiment and ode to rage, but not a straight-up biographical novel. It’s a dense text, and it reproduces the prejudices of fin de siècle Europe, which can make for difficult reading, though there are also sections when this novel opens up and sings.” —Jade Colbert, The Globe and Mail
In Review: Symphony No. 3 —Jose Teodora, Quill & Quire
Read the Provinces: Chris Eaton —All Lit Up
“Chris Eaton’s monumental novel Symphony No. 3, a novel whose writing style, and ambition, rivals the canonically “great novels” of the nineteenth century by reviving their approach to storytelling in the twenty-first century.” —Margaryta Golovchenko, White Wall Review
Chris Eaton is the author of three previous novels, including Chris Eaton, a Biography (Book*hug, 2013), selected as one of the Books of the Year by Quill & Quire and the Toronto Star. He spent many years making music in the band Rock Plaza Central. He currently lives in Ottawa with his partner and two children.