Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Musician's Daughter

Amid the glitter and glamour of musical and court life in 18th century Vienna, fifteen-year-old Theresa Maria Shurman is trying to solve a brutal mystery. Who killed her father, an acclaimed violinist, and stole his valuable Amati violin? When Haydn himself offers her a position as his assistant, it gives Theresa access to life in the palace–and to a world of deceit. Theresa uncovers blackmail and extortion even as she discovers courage and honor in unexpected places: from a Gypsy camp on the banks of the Danube, to the rarefied life of the imperial family. And she feels the stirrings of a first, tentative love for someone who is as deeply involved in the mystery as she is.

Beth says 4.5 Stars...

This book was lovely. I might be a little prejudiced because I'm a band/music geek, but it just warms my heart when music plays a prominent role in a story. The setting was so perfectly done that I was transported to Vienna, and upon recalling my trip there everything was described exactly right. Often historical fiction feels contrived and stale. Dunlap deftly avoided this problem and created relatable characters despite the differences in periods. One thing that I do love about historical fiction is when it blends reality with fantasy (not the magic kind, although that's awesome as well) as was done in this novel. The main characters were complete fabrications, but others, including Haydn, were based off of real people. The partially real characters were well written in that they became individuals in their own rights. The music played such an integral role in the story, but it didn't make it unintelligible for someone with no knowledge of music. They would still be able to enjoy the story. The issue I had was that sometimes the plot became a little much. The mystery got out of hand and didn't flow as smoothly as it could have. There were a few too many threads for Dunlap to control, but I feel like some of that will come with time and experience. The characters were great, especially the gypsies. They brought a delightful vibrancy to the story that lept off of the page. Theresa performed her role adequately but wasn't the greatest heroine ever. The thing was, she didn't need to be. The strength of the book was in Dunlap's world building talent. This is for someone who either loves music, or wishes to jump back in time to the world of the Hapsburgs.


Post a Comment