- Paperback: 496 pages
- Publisher: Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd ) (December 20, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0753807734
- ISBN-13: 978-0753807736
- Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.1 x 1.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.9 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3.8/5
Michael Holme is a thirty-something fiddle player who lives in London and is a member of the Maggiore Quartet. He is tired and fed up of being the second fiddle, and he is still not over Julia, the girl whom he met in Vienna and left after an episode of depression. It's been ten years since, but not even another girl is enough to wipe Julia out of his mind. Suddenly, Julia appears in London, but she is married and has a son. There is a big secret which, if revealed, could destroy her career as pianist, and they need to learn how to live and play along again. Her return and the affair between the two of them gives Michael a dash of enthusiasm, but some things are just not meant to be.
This book was a very special reading experience, since it combines two of my favorite things--literature and music. Though I have no formal education on music and no talent whatsoever, I didn't find it difficult to understand the musical part. It was so wonderfully done that at moments it felt like listening to Beethoven, Schubert or Schumann. I loved the book from the very first page. It's wonderful how Vikram Seth captures the full range of emotions one feels while listening to his favorite music. I admire his ability to put music to words, something I sometimes find difficult to do in my writing. I shouldn't have been surprised, though--he published four volumes of poetry (just as beautiful) and a musical libretto. The crossover just had to be marvelous.
What I didn't like much was the romance. In fact, I consider it more a subplot. It wasn't different than any other adultery romance. It was obvious from the beginning Julia wouldn't leave her family for Michael. It didn't add much to the story, but since it didn't take much either, I just let it be and concentrated on the descriptions of the music. This is what makes the book special.
Everyone with even slightest interest in music should read this book. It doesn't even matter which genre you favor--classic or rock, like me. The passion, joy and excitement are the same, and they are all here.