The story and the construction of the book left a lot to be desired.
The lexicon is extremely anti-Semitic and yet the cantata gets into the hands of one Jewish family after another. The premise of the story is good and the beginning definitely hooks the reader. From there it disappoints. The story flashes back from the present to the late 18th Century to the early 19th Century. The flashes help the reader understand where the cantata resides and who has it. Sara Levy, the main character in this time period is very interesting, compelling and kept me reading. The main character in the present, Suzanna Kesler, is less so, but not unlikable or unbelievable. The problems in this book lie in the story itself and the author’s continued redundancy.
When Suzanna discovers the lost cantata among her dead uncle’s possessions, she seeks out music experts to help her decide what to do with it. She is also interested in learning who the cantata belongs to. Are there decedents from the war who have a claim on the piece? This leads her in the path of a new love interest, Dan Erhardt. We learn that Suzanna had been raped and afterwards her husband left her. This experience made her cautious in any new love interest. Dan also suffered from the early death of his wife and was still grieving from that loss. These two events brought the two together. This particular storyline didn’t bother me and the author did a sensitive job of creating their union.
What I have to ask is why all the different points of view? I saw no reason to have these points of view chapters: Scott Schiffman, Frederick Fournier, Frank Mueller. It goes tiresome because these were minor characters. It cheapened the book. The story would have been told better in Suzanna’s view point with the point of view of Sara Levy in the past alternating. We didn’t even need Dan’s point of view. From a writer’s perspective, those different points of view is the easy way out. The depth of the story for the reader was lost.
Furthermore the book went on and on about the anti-semeticism of the past, present and possibly future. Mentioning it once or even twice would have sufficed, but we got it shoved in our faces without let up. Way over the top.
I did enjoy learning about Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn and their musical careers. I enjoyed learning more about Bach and the musical soirees that were conducted in the homes of the wealthy during the late 18th Century.
If you want to learn more about music history and are willing to skim the rest, this book is for you.