An Equal Music is a fraction of the size of Seth's A Suitable Boy, but is still deliciously expansive. In under 400 pages, the author offers up exquisite complexities, personal and lyrical, while deftly fielding any fears that he's composed a Harlequin for highbrows. During one emotional crescendo, Michael tells Julia, "I don't know how I've lived without you all these years," only to realize, "how feeble and trite my words sound to me, as if they have been plucked out of some housewife fantasy." In addition to the pitch of its love story, one of the book's joys lies in Seth's creation of musical extremes. As the Maggiore rehearses, moving from sniping and impatience to perfection, the author expertly notates the joys of collaboration, trust, and creation. "It's the weirdest thing, a quartet," one member remarks. "I don't know what to compare it to. A marriage? a firm? a platoon under fire? a self-regarding, self-destructive priesthood? It has so many different tensions mixed in with its pleasures."
An Equal Music is a novel in which the length of Schubert's Trout Quintet matters deeply, the discovery of a little-known Beethoven opus is a miracle, and each instrument has its own being. Just as Michael can't hope to possess Julia, he cannot even dream of owning his beloved Tononi, the violin he has long had only on loan. And it goes without saying that Vikram Seth knows how to tell a tale, keeping us guessing about everything from what the Quartet's four-minute encore will be to what really occasioned Julia's departure from Michael's life. (Or was it in fact Michael who abandoned Julia?) As this love story ranges from London to Michael's birthplace in the north of England to Vienna to Venice, few readers will remain deaf to its appeals. --Kerry Fried --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
The often false romanticism which accompanies the life of the classical musician is almost debunked by the reality and yet, from the reality, there is still much that, in Seth's... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Andrew Hardacre
This was my first Vikram Seth novel. From the beginning I was impressed by Seth's writing: his powers of observation, natural dialogue (which brought the various characters and all... Read morePublished 2 months ago by JSG
I'm not a musician. I'm not even very musical. Vikram Seth wrote this book for people like me, hoping to explain to the world of ordinary people what musicians feel about music. Read morePublished 3 months ago by AYJ
This book acquainted me with chamber music and the dynamics of a quartet of talented musicians working through their mutual dedication to their craft. Read morePublished 8 months ago by pennsylvania grandma
This is fascinating about what it is to be a musician. It takes you into the passion, the experience of connecting and playing a work.Published 9 months ago by Tess Alexander
Wonderful, wonderful writing. A musician myself, I don't know how he managed to write so knowledgeably about music without being a musician. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Mary Lou Martin