Monday, June 21, 2010


An Unfinished Score, Elise Blackwell, Undbridled Books, 2010, 264 pp

 This brand new novel is best read in one day. The narrative arc and the emotional depth had a sumptuous impact. I never wanted to stop reading it.

 Suzanne is a classical violist with a non-attentive husband (also a musician as well as a composer) and a lover who conducts orchestras. On the first page Suzanne is cooking dinner when she hears on the radio that her lover has died in a plane crash.

 Also living with Suzanne and her husband are Petra, a violinist, Suzanne's best friend and single parent to Adele, who is deaf. The ghost of Suzanne's lost child takes up additional space in this household. None of these other characters knew about Suzanne's affair though it had been going on for several years.

  The sheer volume of unspoken and unheard communication amongst these people would be enough to sink such an odd "family," but Suzanne is a strong and complex person who can care for them all including herself. When the vengeful widow of the dead lover enters the story there is just no telling how it will all turn out.

  The world of classical music, which has become an anachronism in our modern times, is a world I know. I studied violin, played in orchestras and sang in choirs for a couple decades. Suzanne's home is in Princeton, NJ, the town where I grew up. So many elements like this made the story itself feel familiar, but in the end it was the writing that gradually seduced me and then captured my imagination. One of the best books I have read this year.

(An Unfinished Score is available in hardcover by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

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