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Beautiful Inez: A Novel Hardcover – February 22, 2005
From Publishers Weekly
In this prequel to the author's 2001 novel, Secret Love, Schneider, founding editor of the Hungry Mind Review, delivers a polished, faintly old-fashioned tale of a violinist doomed to unhappiness in early 1960s San Francisco. At 40, ice princess Inez Roseman plays in the San Francisco Symphony and is a well-known soloist. Gifted with perfect pitch and blond Swedish beauty, she is married to prominent civil rights lawyer Jake Roseman (the protagonist of Secret Love) and has two children. Gradually, through an acquaintance with Sylvia Bran, a showroom pianist who passes herself off as a journalist in order to get to know lovely Inez, cracks are revealed in the pianist's exquisite exterior. Jake is an inveterate womanizer; Inez has been depressed since the birth of her eight-year-old son, Joey; and she harbors still-smarting emotional damage from childhood sexual abuse. Schneider's meandering narrative finally settles on the blossoming lesbian relationship between the self-invented Sylvia and the complicated Inez. Despite their passionate affair, Inez thinks constantly about committing suicide, which tortures Sylvia, who is haunted by the suicide of her own mother. The novel is set during the Cuban missile crisis, which deepens the climate of chilly self-destruction Schneider fosters. Though Inez and Sylvia's relationship is sensitively handled, readers may find it difficult to sympathize with poised, distant Inez.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Schneider returns not only to San Francisco in the early 1960s, the setting he evoked so vividly in Secret Love (2001), but also to several of the main characters from that novel. The focus this time, in a sort of prequel, is on Inez Roseman, a violinist with the San Francisco Symphony and the wife of civil rights attorney Jake Roseman, the hero of the earlier novel. Whereas Jake is a whistling crusader, happily fighting to make life better, Inez is deeply melancholic and, as the novel opens, contemplating suicide. Then Sylvia Bran, an infatuated fan, walks into the violinist's life, and Inez is amazed to find herself drawn into an intense affair with another woman. As in Secret Love, Schneider explores with great sensitivity the way that confronting our inherited sense of the forbidden can unlock us from ourselves. But this time he sets himself an even more daunting task: as a male writer, to explore that theme through the lens of two female characters and to depict those characters' inner lives in the most intimate manner. Schneider meets these formidable challenges superbly, perhaps because he uses music as the bridge across the divide between himself and the women in his story. Inez and Sylvia are powerful, unforgettable characters, but they are made so in large part through Schneider's description of the music they share. His ability to probe so deeply, for example, into the melancholia that grips Inez's soul is tied inextricably to his reflections on Bach's Partita in D Minor. A brave novel and a resounding success. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top customer reviews
The book was in perfect condition.
gets the characters and the setting remarkably right. I read
this book shortly after it came out and a few days prior to
hearing him speak. He is an intelligent and caring soul
and this translates into his writing. I loved this book
because it has believable characters and it's the kind
of story that makes me ache. But perhaps my favorite part
is he gets the relationship between Inez and Sylvia
(friendship/lover) just right. You don't have to be
a lesbian to realize the nuances between these two women are
perfect pitch. This is the kind of book I sometimes carry
around just because!
The ending was just hollow for me. I loved the tale up to half-point & then it was... nothing. A hugely forgettable story.
Not even sure why the story should even be written. Though it was written beautifully, yes. I heard from your publisher daily (why I picked up the galley from the get go).
I SO wanted to adore this book. A man writing from a woman's perspective & approaching a lesbian relationship with tenderness; and it WAS tender. I give him that. But the end was a WTF?
She has a successful career, talent, kids & a lover who adores her? Yet she bites it?
Could be my life story without the men & kids.