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The Grace Note Paperback – November 25, 2008
About the Author
Brian L. Doe was born in Ogdensburg, New York, and grew up on the shores of the St. Lawrence River. From a young age, he recognized a passion for the written word and committed himself to the pursuit of writing. He received a Bachelor's Degree in writing from St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, and a Master's Degree in secondary education from the State University of New York at Potsdam College. He is an English teacher and amateur violinist in upstate New York where he lives with his wife and children.
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Alexander Brogan is a gifted musician who aspires to be concert master in the Lincoln Philharmonic, where he plays in the first section. The only thing he loves more than his violin is Charlotte. One evening, while he is performing, Charlotte is murdered.
Unable to cope with his loss, he sells everything he owns, leaves New York City and settles in Tarrytown. There he meets a violin prodigy. Spunky, ten-year-old Kelly, convinces him to teach her. Her wily personality forces Alex to confront his weaknesses. Between Kelly and her beautiful Aunt Grace, Alex finds the road to healing.
Poetic,well crafted, thoughtful, engaging--you won't regret this book.
Mimicking the form of a musical composition, Doe creates variations on his motif of life-love-loss-love-life through interesting and well-developed characters. Contrasting the glittering culture of professional musicians in Manhattan against the atmosphere of a small town in upstate New York, Doe sets the stage for a wide range of emotions to be played out.
A ten year old child, Kelly, comes into his life at time when he needs the challenge she presents to him: "I need a new teacher," she said frankly. "You can teach me. It'll be easy; I'm a prodigy." Despite his vow to never teach violin again, Alex is drawn to the opportunity and this becomes the center point of the next phase of his life. Kelly comes with family, of course, and each character contributes to the texture of the story.
Doe accommodates the non-musically trained reader by including appropriate detail to give credibility to the tone of the book. Readers who are just in it for the relationships and the angst the main character works through as he processes the life changes he experiences will find a satisfying story without being distracted by the musical references.
I did have a little trouble accepting the Stradivarius. Somehow, I just couldn't picture this rare instrument in the context of this novel and would have preferred a modern-day instrument to reference the quality of the instrument compared to the person playing it. "Across the room, the clock read time for the lesson to be over, but steeped in their collaboration, neither noticed the hour." This I understood, knowing what it is like to be lost in the making of music. When the making of the music was on the Strad, however, subtle doubt took me out of the reading moment.
The novel did keep my interest throughout and it was refreshing to see intense emotions from a man's perspective. It is a love story told in an unusual context that is well-supported by good writing and a satisfactory ending.