Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mozart's Sister by Rita Charbonnier

Who could forget Tom Hulse's hooting laugh and antics when he played Mozart in the film Amadeus? Who could forget the vision of his tiny hands producing melody after melody on the harsichord at the age of four? Mozart and his musical genius have fascinated us for over two hundred years. But Mozart was not the only prodigy in his famous family--Nannerl Mozart performed for all the crowned heads of Europe along with her younger brother Wolfgang until she became a teenager.
Rita Charbonnier's novel Mozart's Sister tells another tale--of a musical genius forced because of her sex to always be in the background of his fame. In this book Nannerl comes alive with a wicked temper, amazing imagination, and always a passion for music. Nannerl is forced by her tyrant father Leopold to stop performing and begin teaching piano to a succession of untalented students while her parents and brother travel through Europe on an endless concert tour. She is so furious with them that she destroys all her precious compositions and retreats into an angry silence. Only the right man can free this enchanted "princess" of music, and he does but at the cost of the delicate balance of the Mozart family.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Widow for One Year by John Irving

John Irving is one of those writers that people are always like "OH MY GOD YOU HAVE TO READ HIM!!!" which is strange, considering I have tried to read The World According to Garp about 3 different times and could never get into it. Thankfully though, I was able to get through Widow in about a week (I'm a fast reader when I want to be...thanks to the WGA strike!) A hefty 500+ pages, this is a story about a very dysfunctional and sexually charged family of writers who live on the East End of Long Island. Overall, this was a pretty good read, although for some reason, Irving had this weird compulsion to keep bringing up how spectacular Ruth Cole's breasts were. At any rate, the story had a nice pace to it, some international travel, gratuitous sex scenes, and a happy ending. Sometimes, you can't go wrong with that.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver

Far and away, my favorite book for 2007 (Entertainment Weekly also thought so as well). Shriver's novel delves deeply into the psychological realm of that nagging "what if" scenario. In chapter 1, Irina reaches a critical junction on the night of her friend Ramsey's birthday- should she continue to stay with her always-safe-but-boring husband Lawrence or run away with the sexy snooker (think billiards) player Ramsey. Shriver does what we all wish we could do and splits her novel into Irina's two scenarios. What's especially interesting is seeing how the consequences of each decision intermingle with each other as they play out. Is there ever just one "right" decision? Is predictability and comfort a proper substitute for passion?

This book is so fabulous and if you can just get through the excessive snooker jargon, you will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The dive from Clausen's pier by Ann Packer

This debut from Ann Packer certainly packs an emotional punch with readers. The novel centers around Carrie, a young woman who is struggling to deal with the relationship with her fiance Mike after he suffers a tragic accident that leaves him a quadriplegic. Carrie has been with Mike for a major portion of her life and she's only in her early 20s! You can definitely sympathize with Carrie throughout the book as she tries to carve out a life of her own while always taking Mike into consideration.

This novel heavily focuses on the notion of obligation, personal responsibility and what are the true definitions of love. Expect to shed a few tears while you're at it.

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