Archive for the ‘Novels’ Category

Meet Violinist & Author Gerald Elias

Gerald Elias is author of the award-winning Daniel Jacobus mystery series, published by St. Martin’s Press. Elias brings over thirty-five years as an internationally recognized concert violinist, conductor, composer, and teacher to his novels that take place in the murky recesses of the classical music world. He draws upon his intimate familiarity with the unseen drama behind the curtain to shed an eerie light on the deceptively staid world of the concert stage. A native New Yorker, Elias now resides in Salt Lake City, Utah, and West Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Congrats on the release of Death and the Maiden, the third instalment in your violinist mystery series. What was your inspiration for this particular story?

If you’ve ever played in a string quartet, you’ll know it doesn’t take very long before everyone wants to kill each other. That makes it slam dunk material for the setting of a murder mystery. Then, given that the titles of my books are also the names of classical music pieces having to do with death, I would have been a knucklehead to overlook Schubert’s masterpiece, the Quartet in D Minor, Death and the Maiden. He transcribed the music for the quartet from a song he composed, in which a young woman struggles against the figure of Death, who has come to take her with him to the beyond. The maiden, of course, is anguished, but Death tries to convince her that he is there to provide comfort. In a way, he’s almost like a lover. The story in my book was inspired by that encounter.

Are you a fan of Agatha Christie?

Not only dear Aunt Agatha, but many of the other English mystery writers as well: Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Dick Francis, John LeCarre, and of course the grand-daddy of them all, Mr. Conan Doyle.

Tell us about your amateur sleuth protagonist, Daniel Jacobus. I hear he’s quite a character. How did he come to be how he is?

Daniel Jacobus has about as flinty an exterior as one can imagine, but deep down inside he has a heart of pure gold…maybe. As a young man his career as a concert violinist started with great promise, but with the onset of blindness he became increasingly reclusive, embittered not with music itself, but with the professional world around which it is created. Now, in his old age, he has to be dragged kicking and screaming to solve mysteries in the very world that he shunned.

Having been a concert musician for most of my life, I’ve taken the frustrations that most of us in my profession have do deal with, in which compromises to musical integrity are sometimes imposed upon us, and have consolidated those vexations into the persona of Jacobus to an inordinately bitchy level. The reason I’ve made him blind is two-fold: first, by being blind his other senses, especially hearing, are extraordinarily enhanced, enabling him to solve mysteries that those with sight cannot; and second, in an almost metaphorical sense, by being blind, he perceives music the way it should be—with his ears—and isn’t distracted by the superficial ostentation.

How long did it take you to write the novel? Did you plot it in advance?

In a way, writing is like playing a musical instrument—they are crafts that need to be learned in a disciplined way, and that takes time. Once one reaches a certain level, the understanding of the craft becomes ingrained, though the artistry, fortunately, always remains a wonderful challenge, full of surprises, and needs to be constantly honed.

With Devil’s Trill, it took ten years from the time I first put pen to paper until it finally found its way into print. I could write a thriller based just upon that saga! Danse Macabre took a year and a half. Death and the Maiden took a year. That’s about as fast as I want things to be because not only do I want to make sure I maintain the quality of the books, I want them to get even better.

The general plot for Death and the Maiden came quickly enough. The idea of each member of a string quartet mysteriously vanishing was the easy part. (That idea, no doubt, has entered the mind of most musicians who have ever played string quartets over the past three hundred years.) Deciding upon the means and the chronology was a challenge, because once one or two members disappear, how do you keep the quartet going so that the remaining members have the opportunity to be offed as well?

How do you go about plotting your mysteries? Do you do a chapter by chapter outline?

I start out with the overall concept, and from there try to visualize a basic story line that would strongly support the concept and grab the reader’s imagination. Then I decide how I’d like to begin and end the story, gradually creating a straight line between the two. That doesn’t necessarily mean the chapters progress chronologically, because sometimes it creates more suspense to jump forward or backward in time, but I need to have an orderly progression in my head or else my brain can get hopelessly addled. Once I have that I add intersecting lines of plot and new characters that have organically sprouted up from the main story line. Finally, of course, I have to figure out how Jacobus is going to solve the mystery!

With my fourth book, Death and Transfiguration, that I’m working on now, I’ve taken to writing a brief summary at the beginning of each chapter, a service a lot of the English writers used to provide their readers back in the nineteenth century (“In which Jonathan is thrown from his Horse and discovers, quite by Accident, a fair Maiden”), but for me it’s simply a way to expedite my writing process and will be deleted in the final product.

What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your teaching and music career?

I’d love to have a regular writing schedule—to sit down from seven to eleven every morning with a cup of coffee and write, gazing out the window from time to time for inspiration. But neither my life nor my brain works that way. For one, I’m always juggling music projects with writing projects, and there are times when I’ll have an idea for a book (not necessarily the book I’m currently working on) while driving or at a rehearsal or concert. On those occasions I’ll keep the idea—which might be as little as a single line of text—in my head until the first opportunity to write something down so that I can remember the idea. Then as soon as I get home, whenever that might be, I’ll write it out in full. I have lots of little pieces of paper on my desk.

One big change for me is that in May, after more than thirty-five years of playing in symphony orchestras, I retired from my position as associate concertmaster of the Utah Symphony. This will give me a lot more freedom not only to write but also to concertize on my own.

Do you have any events coming up in the near future?

I recently returned from a two-week trip to Ecuador, where I conducted the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Ecuador, did some performing on the violin, and gave master classes to groups of young string players. It was a gratifying concert tour in all ways, and I even had a chance to do a concert/book event for my first two books, Devil’s Trill and Danse Macabre, at the American Embassy in Quito.

This summer I’ll be performing with the Boston Symphony at the Tanglewood Music Festival in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts (home to Daniel Jacobus). At the end of the summer I’ll be driving back to Salt Lake City for a book tour, the specific events for which are just now being finalized. I greatly enjoy those book events because in addition to the usual Q&A I play excerpts on my violin of some of the significant music talked about in the books.

Do you have a website and/or blog?

My website is www.geraldelias.com. One of the special features I’d like to mention about the site is in response to many readers who wished there was a CD to go with each book. I think the solution we’ve come up with is even better. If you go to the website, there’s a page called Music To Die For. On this page you can click on any of the important pieces talked about in the books and listen to a live performance I’ve given over the years. So it’s free, it’s easy, you can’t break or lose it, and you can listen to music from all the books.

Where is Death and the Maiden available?

Death and the Maiden will be on the bookshelves August 16. It can be purchased at any bookstore or online, and can be found at local libraries as well. If you don’t see it, ask for it!

Is there a fourth book in the horizon?

I mentioned I’m working on Death and Transfiguration. This is the title of one of Richard Strauss’s greatest orchestral tone poems, about a dying man’s physical and emotional struggle for redemption, and his glorious vision of the hereafter when he dies. Strauss composed the music as a young man, and—never one to be called modest—as an old man on his deathbed he said to his daughter-in-law, “You know, death really is a lot like the way I composed it in Death and Transfiguration.”

My story is about a world-famous, tyrannical conductor named Vaclav Herza, who just about everyone would like to kill, but the great maestro always seems to have the upper hand—until he meets Daniel Jacobus, that is.

Is there anything else you’d like to say to my readers?

Since my first book, Devil’s Trill, came out two years ago I’ve received a lot of mail from readers who often have flattering comments to make about the books, but who also occasionally provide some choice, piquant criticism. I welcome both kinds of responses equally (well, maybe not quite equally) because while I like to hear I’m making most people happy, it’s good to be kept on my toes!

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Emily-Jane Hills Orford’s The Four Seasons series

Emily-Jane Hills Orford’s stories and novels reflect her national pride. Emily-Jane began her writing career writing book reviews. She is currently a regular book reviewer for allbookreviews.com and her reviews appear on many other online sites as well as book jackets. Emily-Jane teaches creative writing to young people and regularly gives presentations in local schools and senior’s residences. Other writing accomplishments include articles in the 2005 and 2010 edition of the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada, as well as several books, Spring (PublishAmerica 2005), Summer (Baico 2007), Autumn (Baico 2009), Ukulele Yukon (Baico 2006), Letters From Inside: The Notes and Nuggets of Margaret Marsh (Baico 2006), It Happened in Canada (Baico 2007), It Happened in Canada Book 2 (Baico, 2010), Songs of the Voyageurs (Baico, 2010), The Creative Spirit (Baico 2008), Beyond the Ordinary (Baico 2008), Beyond the Ordinary…And More (Baico 2008) and Personal Notes (Moosehide Books 2008). Emily-Jane’s book, The Whistling Bishop (Baico 2008), was named Finalist in the 2009 Indie Book Awards. This award-winning author believes in writing about Canada; but she also believes in writing about extra-ordinary people – the real people who made our country a great nation. The author may be reached by email at: ejomusic@sympatico.ca; or by mail at: 11 Stradwick Ave., Nepean, Ontario K2J 2X3. Or, check her website at: www3.sympatico.ca/mistymo

THE FOUR SEASONS SERIES


Spring
PublishAmerica: 2005
ISBN: 1-4137-7615-9
Price: $25.00 CDN plus shipping
Available: from the author: ejhomusic@gmail.com
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Chapters (http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/home/)
Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eq4X1r8rYR4

Synopsis:

In 1725, Antonio Vivaldi wrote the music for The Four Seasons. He penned a poem for each of the four seasons: Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring. Each season has its reason, its significance, its purpose, its own symbolism. Life is like the four seasons. Spring is Melanie Harris’s story. She is a talented young violinist with a valuable Grancino violin. There is a secret inside her violin, a secret only she and her mother should know; but somehow others have found out. The story follows a journey of Melanie’s growth as a musician, the people she meets, the friends she makes, the losses she suffers. Vivaldi’s music is the cornerstone of Melanie’s musical career as well as her life as she takes her instrument and her music around the world. Each stage of Melanie’s life progresses like a season of the year, a musical/poetic symbol as in Vivaldi’s music. Melanie is the music she loves best, The Four Seasons.

Summer
Baico: 2007
ISBN: 978-1-897449-02-8
Price: $22.00 CDN plus shipping
Available: from the author: ejhomusic@gmail.com
Chapters (http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/home/)
Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-OtAO7IYQk

Synopsis:

In 1725, Antonio Vivaldi wrote the music for The Four Seasons. He penned a poem for each of the four seasons: Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. Each season has its reason, its significance, its purpose, its own symbolism. Life is like the four seasons. Summer is but one of the seasons of the year; one of the seasons of Vivaldi’s masterpiece The Four Seasons. Summer is the story of Hope Jones, a young Gitxsan fiddler from northern British Columbia, Canada. Hope has a rare musical talent and what everyone believes is a very valuable Stradivarius violin. Is it the mysterious missing ‘Juliet’? As Hope grows and matures in her music, she learns more about her violin, the romance and mystery that surrounds it and the very dangerous family that continually threatens her in their attempts to claim it. Hope’s life follows the four seasons of Vivaldi’s music, much like life unfolds through the seasons. Summer is but one story in Vivaldi’s musical journey. Summer is the sequel to the popular novel, Spring published by PublishAmerica (2006).

Autumn
Baico: 2009
ISBN: 978-1-926596-42-6
Price: $24.00 CDN plus shipping
Available: from the author: ejhomusic@gmail.com
Chapters (http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/home/)
Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m08Ah35QyL0

Synopsis:

Martha Kapakatoak is a young Inuit girl with a passion for music. She has a talent and an instrument that was passed down to her by her ancestors. She is a self-taught pianist because in Iqaluit, the capital city of Canada’s newest territory, Nunavut, there are no piano teachers. In fact, her piano is the only real acoustic piano in the entire community and it is sadly in need of repair and a good tuning. A square piano, the instrument was brought over to Canada’s Far North in the mid-1800s, and dragged across the tundra on a dogsled. It is the family’s most treasured heirloom, and one of the music world’s greatest unsolved mysteries. Autumn is Martha’s story, a story that takes music from the concert hall to the vacant spaces of the northern tundra. It is a story that interweaves with the other stories from The Four Seasons series and its characters. Melanie Harris, the famous violinist from Spring (PublishAmerica, 2005), the first book in The Four Seasons series, and Hope Jones, the Gitxsan fiddler-turned-classical violinist from Summer (Baico, 2008), the second book in The Four Seasons series, join Martha in an adventure of music and mystery and a race to discover the piano’s true history before someone else gets hurt. Emily-Jane Hills Orford’s Autumn is the third book in The Four Seasons series. It follows rave reviews of the first two books, which were described as having “a classic charm” (Strings May 2008) with a plot that “grows on you with its deepening chords and situations” (Writer’s Digest 2009).

COMING SOON:

The Fourth and Final book of The Four Seasons series:

Winter

“Winter”, is not Adina’s nor Alon’s story; but rather a story that haunts the next generation, Adina’s son, Joseph. The novel follows a mystery that surrounds a priceless cello, one that will inevitably lead Joseph from the spotlight as a brilliant cellist through the depths of despair as he struggles with substance abuse following a horrific accident that almost costs him his life. The mystery digs deep into Joseph’s ancestral past to reveal an unresolved tragedy from a previous century that continues to haunt the instrument and the man who plays it. This mystery will reveal facts that had gone undisclosed since the incarceration of the Jews of Paris and someone once thought lost is found again. “Winter” follows in the popular tradition of my previous three novels, “Spring”, “Summer” and “Autumn”, intertwining the characters from the earlier novels as the characters struggle to solve each other’s mysteries.

Website: http://www3.sympatico.ca/mistymo/
Blog: http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/profile.php?id=1312163572

Interview with Kathi Baron, author of SHATTERED

What was your inspiration for Shattered?

In the past, as an occupational therapist, I worked with teens who have experienced horrific abuse. As they each worked to heal, it was inspiring to witness their transformations. I wanted to do a novel to honor their resiliency.

Why the violin and not something else? What about this instrument got your attention?

I started really liking the violin when I discovered the Dixie Chicks. I enjoy all the different ways Martie Maquire uses her violin within their different songs. I’m especially attracted to the versatility of this instrument and enjoy hearing and seeing it played classically as well as alternatively. Plus, I love the way it looks. I thought it would be interesting and fun to write about a teen violinist and it was a wonderful experience to get to enter a musician’s world via the writing of Shattered.

Tell us three words that describe your protagonist.

Cassie is passionate, gifted, and resilient.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this novel? Did you have to do a lot of research about violin playing?

The most challenging part of writing this novel was trying to figure out a structure for it. Since it’s about intergenerational child abuse, it’s Cassie’s story, her dad’s story, and also, her grandfather’s story. It was difficult for me to write it so the reader could experience it as Cassie’s story, but also learn about her father and grandfather. I wrote it in several formats and it wasn’t “nailed down” until I received guidance from my publisher, Evelyn Fazio.

I did do a lot of research about the violin which was my favorite part of writing this book. I knew absolutely nothing about the violin and had to start very basic, like learning the names of its parts. Very early on, I realized I wouldn’t be able to write this story unless I had a violinist to consult. I got very lucky when Jenny Cappelli of the Cappelli Institute agreed to help me. She’s a violinist and teacher of performers in the Chicago Youth Symphony and allowed me to email her any and all questions. She invited me to observe a lesson with one of her students and I took a lot of notes. I also visited a violin workshop at Kagan and Gaines Music Store to see the many ways a violin can break. (That was a sad day). The owner, Joseph Kali researched and chose the Carlo Bergonzi violin for Cassie. I also read a lot of bios of violinists on their websites and listened to a lot of different kinds of violin music. I attended a Chicago Youth Symphony concert and swear I saw Cassie on stage! I read Violin Dreams by Arnold Steinhardt and The Soloist by Mark Salzman, as well as a lot of issues of Strings magazine.

What is your writing schedule like?

Currently, I work part-time in an outpatient behavioral health program for adults. I’m there Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. So I view Wednesday and Friday as my work days as well, except that I’m working at my writing. I try to journal every day to keep my mind in practice. On my “writing days,” I tend to work for 6-8 hours on these days. I’m not always writing though. Sometimes I’m researching, or interviewing a consultant, or reading craft or fictions books to support the work. I have been known to steal away to a hotel for a weekend so that I can totally immerse myself in the process. It allows me to get some momentum going or to do the real detailed parts of a novel that require intense focus/freedom from interruptions.

Please share with my readers a bit about your road to publication. How did you find WestSide Books?

My journey to this book took 13 years. Before Shattered, I wrote 2 novels, 5 short stories, 2 picture book manuscripts, many, many poems and a non-fiction essay. I’ve submitted all of these pieces to publishers, contests and literary journals over the years. None of them have been accepted for publication. However, each piece offered me opportunities to learn about pacing, page turning, plot, point of view, tense and dialogue.

After the 2 novels were rejected, I decided to attend the Vermont College MFA Writing for Children and Young Adults program. During the 2 years that I was there, I focused on writing Shattered. After graduation, I revised it and submitted it to 15 publishers and received rejections from all of them.

My classmate, Angela Morrison, had also written a novel that didn’t sell either. She invited me to join her in revising and so over the course of 6 months, we swapped manuscripts each month until we completed a new version of our novels. Around this time, WestSide Books sent a letter to Vermont College inviting alumni to submit young adult novels. From the description of the type of novels they were looking for, Shattered was a good fit. I almost didn’t submit it though because I didn’t want to deal with rejection. Angela encouraged me to send it and I did. Within a few months, an offer came from WestSide and within three weeks, Angela sold her novel, Taken by Storm, to Razorbill. It has been a pure thrill to see both of our books on shelves in bookstores!

What is your greatest challenge as an author?

My greatest challenge is choosing which details or scenes to use. As an occupational therapist, I’m a trained observer. In a therapeutic process, I never know which detail or situation that a patient shares with me will have meaning to the future process, so I tend to absorb as much as I can about a person as I work with them. This gets in my way as a writer, making it difficult for me to figure out which things are relevant to character development, scene creation, or the overall plot. So initially, I tend write a lot of words and eventually, I end up doing a lot of deleting.

What is the single most important tip of advice you’d give new writers?

Focus your energy on developing your craft—on doing your best work—and not on getting published.

What is the best writing advice you have ever received?

“Focus on doing your best work and not on getting published.”

What’s next for Kathi Baron?

I’m currently working on a young adult novel that I’m hoping to submit to WestSide Books in a few months (after I figure out what to delete!)

Review of Shattered, by Kathi Baron

Shattered
By Kathi Baron
WestSide Books
ISBN: 978-1-934813-08-9
Young Adult

Shattered is the compelling story of a violin prodigy teenaged girl who runs away from home after her father shatters her beloved violin in front of her eyes. Thus, the word ‘shatter’ has a dual meaning in the novel. As Cassie learns to survive in the streets, she gradually learns the reason her father, a former violinist, behaved so explosively. While away, she meets a series of interesting—and sometimes dangerous—characters that indirectly help her grow and become a more mature and understanding human being. Cassie also searches for her elusive grandfather in an effort to learn more about her own father.

Human emotions are brought to vivid life in this first novel by talented new author Kathi Baron. Baron writes from the heart, with passion and sincerity. The prose flows beautifully and the story kept me engrossed all the way till the end. Cassie is a genuine protagonist most teenaged girls will identify with, especially young violinists. One aspect of this book that got my attention is that the descriptions of music and the violin sound very real even though the author isn’t a musician. This is a peeve of mine with violin novels: if the author isn’t familiar with the violin, the writing comes out as fake. But this didn’t happen with Shattered, so I have to congratulate the author on her research.

Shattered is a coming-of-age story. It is also about the healing power of music and the complexity of family relationships. A must read for young violinists, especially girls!

Review of The Musician’s Daughter, by Susanne Dunlap

The Musician’s daughter
By Susanne Dunlap
Bloomsbury
2008
978-1599903323
Young adult/historical

Music and violin enthusiasts who love mystery and adventure fiction will relish Dunlap’s latest novel, The Musician’s Daughter.

The story takes place in 18th Century Vienna and begins on Christmas Eve, as 15-year old Theresa Maria’s beloved father is brought to her home, dead. Though Maria is stunned and devastated by the event, her practical nature soon takes charge and she becomes the head of the household. Her mother isn’t able to help, as she is pregnant and dazed by her new widowhood. Theresa’s other family member is her little brother, and they need money soon if he is going to become a luthier’s apprentice, as it had been planned from the beginning. But who would hire a 15-year old viola player, anyway, in a time when musician women were frowned upon? Thus Theresa seeks the help of her father’s dear old friend, composer Franz Joseph Hayden. All along, however, Theresa is keen on investigating her father’s death. Why was her father’s dead body found near a gypsy camp? Why was his violin missing? Her instincts tell her there’s more to it than a vulgar petty crime.

Indeed, as Theresa begins working with Hayden, she begins to suspect a conspiracy, a mystery reaching the high levels of the government. Was his father a simple violinist in the orchestra of Prince Nicholas Esterhazy, as she always thought he was, or was his real job more sinister?

Music, mystery, espionage and a light touch of romance will keep readers turning the pages. Dunlap’s prose flows beautifully and I loved Theresa’s strong yet sympathetic character. She’s smart, resourceful and independent in a time where women were expected to behave just the opposite. The gypsy element adds an exotic, sensual flavor to the story. Musicians will particularly enjoy the musical descriptions. The story has an ambitious plot and I think Dunlap did a good job in tidying up all the loose ends. This is a novel to be enjoyed not only by teens but also by adults.

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Dance Macabre book launch!

I got this message from violinist/author Gerald Elias…

Dear Friends,

Please come and be the first to celebrate the release of my second book, Danse Macabre! Bring your friends to an evening of reading, music, and conversation at

The Mysterious Bookshop,
58 Warren Street, New York, NY 10017
Monday, August 30, at 6:30 PM.

In Danse Macabre, the second Daniel Jacobus mystery, the rivalry between the beloved aging violin virtuoso, Rene Allard, and BTower, his one-time protege and young African American crossover sensation, boils over, resulting in a brutal murder, and Jacobus is caught in the middle of a clash between generations, races, and musical passion.

I am also very pleased to announce that St. Martin’s Press has recently invited me to write a third and fourth in the series, so you’ll be seeing a lot more of Daniel Jacobus, and I look forward to seeing you on the 30th!

Yours,
Jerry

To see and hear more, go to www.geraldelias.com

Some comments about Danse Macabre:

“Elias’s debut, Devil’s Trill, was a great reading experience; his new book is outstanding. A musical feast for mystery and music lovers.” (Library Journal, starred review, July 2010)

“The refreshingly caustic Jacobus, a cast of superbly drawn supporting characters, an interesting classical music milieu accessible to aficionados and neophytes alike, an unexpected twist or two, and a unique murder method combine for an engrossing read.” (Publisher’s Weekly, June 2010)

Review of An Unfinished Score, by Elise Blackwell

An Unfinished Score
By Elise Blackwell
Unbridled Books
ISBN-10: 1936071665
ISBN-13: 978-1936071661
Pub date: April 2010

An Unfinished Score begins with our viola-player protagonist, Suzanne, learning about her lover’s tragic death from a radio announcement as she’s having dinner with her composer husband, Ben. Stunned, she must hide her feelings and act as if nothing is wrong. During the coming weeks, as she goes on with her daily routine, we get past snapshots of her illicit relationship with her lover, the well-known conductor Alex Elling. Suzanne keeps the secret to herself, hiding the truth even from her best friend Petra. Then one day she receives a strange call from Alex’s widow, a call that brings an unexpected twist into Suzanne’s quietly desperate life: the widow claims that Alex has left an unfinished concert for Suzanne… Is this true? Who is to finish the score? Who gets to play the concert? For what reason?

Thus begins the dark relationship between Suzanne and her dead lover’s widow, a relationship that sends Suzanne into inner turmoil and ultimately into public humiliation.

There are many positive things to say about this novel. It is obviously well researched. The world of musicians, composers, orchestras and string quartets come alive. In this respect, the author has done her homework, and classical music fans will enjoy all the references to music and facts about the ins and outs of the musical world. As a norm, it isn’t easy for a non-musician author to write convincingly about musician characters, yet the author has accomplished this with flying colors. The sentences flow beautifully and at times the prose has some great moments. There is a genuine, realistic aspect to the characters and their insipid and unpleasant lives. Also worth noting is Suzanne’s submersion into her fantasy world, the tortuous state of her mind not only because she’s lost Alex, but because she’s now left with nothing but her dull, ordinary existence.

That said, the novel does have its share of flaws. First, there are so many mentions and allusions to music and composers that the story flow drags and gets bogged down with details. Second, in spite of Suzanne’s predicament, she’s not sympathetic enough for the reader to care; in fact, none of the characters in the book are particularly likable. The novel is lacking in this important aspect, thus affecting the reader’s ability to be concerned with the outcome. Third, Alex’s widow comes out as the stereotypical ‘evil ex-wife’ and her conversations with Suzanne often sound stilted.

In spite of this, An Unfinished Score will be of special interest to musicians—especially viola and violin players—and lovers of classical music.