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By: Helen Dymond

Finding Handel

Pages: 232 Ratings: 4.8
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When the sixty-five-year-old Handel’s journey through Holland is interrupted by a road accident, he is nursed back to health by a hermit and a servant girl who both have deeply troubled lives. He embarks on an inner journey, recalling musical triumphs and failures, dreaming of his past loves, facing up to his faults of character and asking himself questions: why has he chosen Britain as his home? Why does he feel compelled to compose his final oratorio, 'Jephtha', in a race against time with his encroaching blindness? 

His London friends realise he is missing and try to find him, led by his number one admirer, the artist Mary Delany, who passionately opposes the oppression of women and celebrates her own sexuality. Handel’s Christian faith is so badly shaken by a quarrel with the freethinking hermit that it threatens to prevent him from completing his life’s work. The novel takes us right away from the usual stereotypes of Handel as a haughty courtier or a comical foreigner, and into the mind of an intensely private and passionate man whose unique musical gifts are enjoyed more widely today than ever before.


Helen Dymond’s fascination with Handel started in the 1980s when she sang in the Handel Opera Chorus. In 1985 she supplied the research for the Channel 4 film Honour, Profit and Pleasure starring Simon Callow; and her “Handel-Lovers’ Chorus”, a comic version of the Hallelujah Chorus, was published and is still in print. In 2005 scenes from her play Handel and Susannah were performed in London, followed by her play Handel’s Feast in 2009. For forty years she was mainly occupied in teaching English and lecturing in Humanities; her final post was at the City Lit, London, teaching on Handel’s Operas and Oratorios and The Psychology of Religion.

Customer Reviews
4.8
12 reviews
12 reviews
  • C Armour

    Thoroughly good read

  • Jean-Gabriel

    This is a fascinating insight into Handel's life and the workings of his inner mind, based on extensive historical and biographical research. The cast of characters is very well written with humour and authenticity. Highly recommended to all those who love a good story! A highly recommended read!

  • Jean-Gabriel Tarassenko

    This is a fascinating insight into Handel's life and the workings of his inner mind, based on extensive historical and biographical research. The cast of characters are very well written with humour and authenticity. Highly recommended to all those who love a good story!

  • Alice Hicks

    This is a rollicking good read. The author clearly knows her subject very well and the book is both entertaining and informative. Handel is skilfully brought to life in an imaginative, yet totally believable, way. From the smell of horse manure coming through the open window when Handel was in London, to the kind of foodstuffs he ate, all add to the authenticity of the narrative and bear witness to the extensive research which lies behind this little masterpiece.

  • Garrisonhalibut

    This book is a fantastic achievement; turning the life and mind of a composer from 300 years ago into a readable biographical novel for a modern audience.
    I learned a lot more about Handel the man than I would ever have learned from Wikipedia, and the author manages NOT to make it a turgid exposition of facts.
    I will be listening to more of Handel’s music to see if my new knowledge enhances my enjoyment).

  • Pam D.

    This is a well researched and fascinating exploration of the life of Handel and his circle including Alexander Pope and William Hogarth. Handel takes the waters at Bath and witnesses the ecstatic audience reactions to his works. The audience came out of ‘Messiah’ counting the weeks until they could hear it again and the crush was so great that gentlemen were asked not to carry their swords and ladies were asked not to wear hoops. A very entertaining and readable account.

  • H. Golding

    This is an unusual and remarkable novel in which Helen Dymond richly evokes the period of the mid-eighteenth century, reimagining the personality of Handel, his life and works and some of the people who worked with him and performed his music.
    Helen Dymond combines a detailed knowledge of Handel's music, his methods of composing and his spiritual conviction which is deeply Christian but which is profoundly challenged by an encounter that takes place when Handel is recuperating after a coaching accident.
    A hugely enjoyable and informative read.

  • SPJ

    I much enjoyed this book, which I was given as a present. At no point did I wonder whether it would be worth reading to the end. Pacy and easily digestible. An evocative impression of what Handel's life was (or might have been) like. Also, for a pedant like me, the editing and layout were excellent.

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