Soundtrack for The Things You Do For Love

Music features prominently in The Things You Do For Love, and I've compiled a playlist which includes much of the 'soundtrack' for the novel. You can access the whole sequence on Spotify, or click the YouTube links embedded in the text below to listen to the tracks individually

1. Rachmaninov Prelude in G minor 

2. Bach Goldberg Variations

Two pieces played on the piano by Henry in the scene in the novel where Flora tells him she is pregnant. Kitty and Lou go to hear the Goldberg Variations being played at the Wigmore Hall twenty-three years later, when it seems to them an apt theme tune for the family: ‘All that . . . complexity. The same damn tunes coming back over and over again.’

3. Schubert Winterreise

(especially the first song, Gute Nacht (Good Night))

Landon Peverell’s singing of Schubert’s song cycle ‘Winterreise’ (Winter Journey) for Flora and her daughters after a dramatic scene late in the novel affects all the characters deeply. ‘How much better expressed in music than it could ever be in words, that knowledge that sorrow and happiness are inextricable…’.

4. Schumann Ich Grolle Nicht

When Kitty revisits her childhood home, this song is part of a bittersweet memory: ‘their bedtime treat... Schumann lieder delivered at full histrionic volume, Henry banging out the piano accompaniment with great flourishes of his arms while she and Lou capered about in pyjamas.’

5. Mozart Deh! Vieni alla finestra (from Don Giovanni)

Landon sings this song to Flora in a secret, tender, moment, and she hears it again, not long afterwards, sung by him on the radio: ‘A lilting love song of a melody, designed to entice a woman to bed…’

6. Purcell Dido and Aeneas

(especially Aeneas’ aria)

When Flora and Francine Abelard go to hear ‘Dido and Aeneas’ performed in a church in Tours, Flora is astonished to find that Landon is singing the part of Aeneas. ‘She’d forgotten how imposing he looked on stage and how convincingly he communicated…’

7. Mountain Goats Love Love Love

When I was writing the novel and first came up with the title, my daughter introduced me to this wonderful ballad, which includes the same phrase. I thought of mentioning it in the novel, but decided to write my own lyrics by a fictional singer song-writer to use as the epigraph. But I imagine Kitty listening to The Mountain Goats…

8. Norah Jones Come Away With Me

This is a favourite song from a phase of my life when I was working very hard in the NHS and had a house full of small children. Flora doesn’t listen to music much, but this is very much the kind of music Kitty and Lou might have listened to at home (along with Muse and Nirvana!) and I imagine Flora catching the strain of it filtering through the house and feeling a vague sense of yearning, and of that particular female sensibility it evokes.

9. Walford Davies God Be In My Head

Henry – the epitome of the musical snob – hates this piece, and makes a point of asking Flora not to include it in his funeral service, but I am rather fond of it, especially sung very gently and quietly by a Cathedral choir on a winter evening.

10. Elgar Violin Sonata

This piece doesn’t feature in the novel, but it’s close to my heart as I played it years ago at school, and Kitty’s compositions definitely have a strain of Elgar about them. ‘She’d written a painfully derivative Elgaresque Romance which entirely failed to disguise the romance already consuming Kitty and Daniel…’ This sonata has all the pathos and pride and passion I associate with Elgar.

11. Vaughan Williams The Lark Ascending

Again, this piece doesn’t feature in the novel, but it is a wonderful evocation of the English countryside in which the Jones sisters grew up. In Lou and Alice’s clifftop ultimatum scene, Lou hears ‘the tumbling, insistent song of a lark high above, drawing her up and away, and it was as if all the happy memories they had amassed together flowed through her mind, and through Alice’s too…’

12. Debussy Clair de Lune

Much of the novel is set in France, and if Vaughan Williams and Elgar represent the English settings, Debussy is the perfect way into the French countryside. I imagine this (especially in a lush orchestral arrangement) as the soundtrack for Flora’s lingering meals in the garden at Les Violettes with Martin. ‘This evening they sat on the lawn, looking back at the house… It was dark by now, the night air cool and soft, the candle casting a little pool of light into which bugs glided now and then. Flora didn’t want to move, to spoil the moment, but the ache of anticipation had grown almost unbearable…’

13. Abba Fernando

14. Rod Stewart I Don’t Want To Talk About It

Two songs played at the New Year’s Eve party where Henry proposes to Flora – and reminiscent of my early teens! ‘As she tries to move her body in time to the music, she realises that she is drunk, slipping willingly towards an irrevocable change… The music changes from the jigging beat of Tiger Feet to the croon of I don’t want to talk about it, and Henry draws her in close.’

15. Cheryl Frances-Hoad Shakespeare Songs

Cheryl Frances-Hoad is a talented young female composer, one of several who might be a model for Kitty (at least in musical terms!)