Book review: ‘The Industry of Human Happiness’ by James Hall

The early days of the recorded music industry were a cut-throat affair: rival technologies, competing phonograph and gramophone companies and a complete absence of such legal and business niceties like copyright agreements and recording contracts. An ideal setting for a novel, therefore. ‘The Industry of Human Happiness’ is set in late Victorian London and takes the reader on a journey through vicious beatings, gruesome murders, family feuds and unspeakable treachery. It follows the lives of Italian emigrants Max Cadenza and his cousin Rusty as they set up The London Gramophone Corporation to capitalise on the potential of this new technology.

Music journalist, James Hall’s debut novel, ‘The Industry of Human Happiness’ is meticulously researched and very effectively captures the flavour of both the fledgling record industry, and the revolutionary impact it would come to have on cultural life, as well as the seedy but exhilarating world of London’s West End in the late nineteenth century. The plot remains fast-moving and engaging and in spite of some epic betrayals there is a reconciliation of sorts at the end, both dramatically and historically. Recommended.

Published: May 2018 by Lightning Books Ltd

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