July 6, 2018
Music and Reading!
Are you a reader who also loves music?
Today’s post is especially for music lovers as I review The Ensemble (new review) and draw your attention to three other books (previously reviewed) that also contain music themes.
If you’re a musician or love music and also love reading, these four reading recommendations might interest you! (I’m not a musician and still enjoyed these stories….but they will be a richer reading experience for you if you love music or have music experience.)
The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
Genre/Categories: Fiction, Inspirational, Music, Fable
For Mitch Albom fans, a magical, heartwarming, and compelling story about the life of a gifted musician and the people he meets. (previously reviewed here)
My Rating: 5 Stars
The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce
Genre/Categories: Fiction, Friendship, Music
This is a tender story about Frank, a quirky character who is devoted to the preservation of vinyl records in his eccentric London music shop. (previously reviewed here)
My Rating: 5 Stars
The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan
Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Music
This is a heartwarming and light historical fiction read about ladies who have been left behind when the men go to war (WW11) and the ladies unite their community through continuation of the choir. (previously reviewed here)
My Rating: 4 Stars
The Ensemble by Aja Gabel
Genre/Categories: Fiction, Classical Music, Musicians
A recent release and Book of the Month selection, The Ensemble follows the lives of four young members of a chamber quartet as they navigate the world of competitive classical music, ambition, relationships, success, failure, and love. Readers will meet Jana, first violin, aloof, resilient, and fearless leader; Brit, second violin, beautiful, idealistic, and quiet orphan; Daniel, cello, angry, oldest, and most adrift; and Henry, viola, an easy-going prodigy who has always lived an easy and blessed life. This is a character driven story (some unlikable) and includes a multitude of musical references. Although it’s beautifully written and a unique concept, there’s minimal plot. With a focus on relationships, the four musicians, drawn together by art, are bonded for life (reminding me a bit of Mitch Albom’s metaphor in The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto that “we’re all in a band” and throughout our lives we join different bands. The author expertly and carefully explores relationships and friendships, backgrounds of the four musicians, and the profound impact that their families of origin have on their decisions and outlooks. The beauty in the story is in the exploration of the family you choose as they choose each other over and over again.
Here’s what worked for me:
- beautiful writing
- unique concept for a story
- insightful observations on relationships and personal and professional growth
- their commitment and bond to each other
- the idea of chosen family (community)
- well drawn characters
What I thought could have been better:
- The story could have been 100 pages shorter or written as a novella…at about 56% I started to eagerly anticipate reaching the end (even though I enjoyed the writing).
- It’s a slow read (for me who loves more action) without much of a plot (focus is on character development and observations and reflections).
- a touch melodramatic at times
My Rating: This is difficult as I wavered between a 3 and 4 (see above bullet points), so I decided on 3.5 Stars (a solid enough read but probably not recommendable to everyone without some explanation).
Recommendation: readers who love music and character driven stories that focus on relationships and friendships, this is the book for you!
Meet the Author, Aja Gabel
New author Aja Gabel played the cello for about 25 years, many of those years very seriously. “I’m one of five children, and my mom tried to make us all play instruments. It only really stuck with me. I started on violin when I was five years old and switched to cello at ten,” says Gabel. “I had a brief affair with the upright string bass, but I’m way too short to handle that instrument. I spent most of my childhood and teenage years seriously playing chamber music and continued to study it through college and after, though I went down the writing path.”
Gabel lives in Los Angeles, where she says she’s trying to reintroduce herself to the Bach cello suites. “I forgot how impossible they are. It’s good and humbling to start playing again, though. Something about the focused physicality of playing ignites all kinds of other creativity,” she says.
Happy Reading Bookworms!
“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke
“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes
“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text
My Summer TBR
I’ll be updating my Summer TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!
(So far I’ve read a handful, and I’ve only abandoned one)
A Link I Love:
Next week (Friday) I’m excited to bring you a review of the best book I’ve read so far this year: A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza……and also (for Top Ten Tuesday) a recap of my best reads so far this year.
Sharing is Caring
Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.
Have you read any of these titles? Does the theme of music in literature pique your interest?
What are you reading this week?
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Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.
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