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The Music Lesson: A Novel by [Weber, Katharine]
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The Music Lesson: A Novel Kindle Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Length: 192 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews Review

Patricia Dolan defines herself by her job as an art historian and her identity as an Irish American. When she is 41, the combination of the two proves explosive, leading her to a rough cottage in West Cork. In Ireland she has for company only her own words, one elderly neighbor, and "The Music Lesson," a beautiful Vermeer executed on wood. As she anticipates the arrival of Mickey, her distant relative and lover, Patricia slowly, tantalizingly reveals the events that have led to her isolation. Before Mickey had appeared one day outside her office at New York's Frick Museum, she had become inured to loss and death, a high-functioning depressive. But her 25-year-old third cousin once removed reawakens her. Alas, his interest is both personal and political, and she is soon involved in a plot to kidnap and ransom the Vermeer, property of the Queen. The painting, she tells herself fervently, "is an instrument of magic. Perhaps now it is also an instrument of change, a talisman, the charm that will force powerful people to pay attention and take decisive action at last."

The Music Lesson is far from your everyday, action-packed IRA saga. Instead, Katharine Weber's second novel is very much like the intimate portrait her heroine so lovingly describes--an exquisite miniature in which images, ideas, and deep emotions keep coming out of the woodwork. --Kerry Fried

From Publishers Weekly

After her very promising debut with Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear (1995), Weber offers a complete, but equally delightful, change of pace in this emotionally involving thriller that is propelled by psychological intensity. New York art historian Patricia Dolan is so swept away by the distant Irish cousin, Michael O'Driscoll, who seeks her out for her expertise but quickly becomes her lover, that in no time she is living in a remote cottage on the west coast of Ireland and is part of an IRA-inspired plot to kidnap a Vermeer painting (titled The Music Lesson) from the British royal collection and hold it for ransom. Patricia, alone in a wet winter with no company but the cherished Vermeer, keeps a journal that is the basis of the novel. She is by turns sprightly and funny about her Irish neighbors, reflective on the nature of art and of Vermeer's supreme genius, ecstatic about the sexual awakening Michael has given her and anxious about the odd position in which she finds herself. Is she being watched? Did her old neighbor lady see the picture by accident? Where is Michael? The situation is eventually resolved with brutal suddenness, and though it is difficult to see how else Weber could have ended the book, the final paragraph seems rather facile after all the warm and civilized writing, and the convincing creation of a winsomely offbeat heroine, that precedes it. But Weber remains a writer to be cherished, with the added, and quite rare, virtue of never writing a word too much. Regional author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3066 KB
  • Print Length: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Crown (October 19, 2011)
  • Publication Date: October 19, 2011
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #295,626 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on September 4, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Historical art expert Patricia Dolan has never fully recovered from the death of her daughter that subsequently led to her divorce. She throws herself fully into her work at New York's Frick Art Reference Library to forget her inner pain.

Her distant cousin, Michael O'Driscoll comes to New York to obtain her help. Soon, the duo becomes lovers. She leaves America to live in a cottage in a remote part of Ireland. As the long winter sets in, Patricia has only a stolen painting by Vermeer, THE MUSIC LESSON, as company. As she keeps a diary, Patricia soon begins to transform herself, guided by the painting that is her sole companion. She now knows that she must choose between the beauty of art and the mundane pragmatic world of politics where love is not part of the equation.

THE MUSIC LESSON is a clever, but strange psychological thriller that will elate sub-genre fans. The novel is mostly told through Patricia's diary, but that device does not slow down the tale for even a nanosecond. The story line is crisp though readers will question the naive motivations of Patricia even in her numb state. However, what makes this novel a winner is the characters, especially Patricia and the person in the painting. As with OBJECTS IN MIRRORS ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR, Katherine Weber scribes a taut thrilling tale of self awareness.

Harriet Klausner 3/17/99
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Format: Paperback
What do art historians and radical Irish political groups have in common? In this book, a (fictional) Vermeer painting owned by the Queen of England. Patricia Dolan, bereft Irish-American reference librarian at the Frick, falls hard for her Irish cousin and within weeks finds herself ensconced in a remote cottage in Ireland with one of the objects of her desire--the tiny "kidnapped" Vermeer painting that is being held for ransom. Patricia tells us her story in retrospect in the form of a plain-spoken journal and simultaneously reveals her interconnected, immediate musings on loss, love, art history, philosophy (Walter Benjamin in particular), national identity, politics and geneaology. To her credit, Weber clearly and cleverly conveys her complex tale in this slim and compelling novel that manages to be, like a Vermeer painting, both understated and profound.
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By Sesho on January 27, 2003
Format: Paperback
In The Music Lesson Katherine Weber does a good job of pulling off a mystery novel bedecked with a love story, or should I say a lust story, with the snob-nosed word "literature" and carries it off brillantly.
As the story opens we meet Patricia Dolan, a 41 year old art historian from America who is currently keeping a low profile in a small cottage on the outskirts of an Irish town of Ballyhoe. Just why she is hiding out becomes readily apparent when we find out that she is in the possession of a stolen Vermeer painting. She is waiting to be contacted by her young cousin, Mickey, who just happens to be her lover. In the meantime, the waiting allows her to think about her past: the death of her daughter and the resulting divorce from her husband, the fierce nationalism of her Irish father, and always the curiosity to see her homeland. She also has to deal with the unknown future she will have to face when Mickey arrives. She is a woman who wonders if she has made the right decisions in her life but knows it's too late to change them even if she made the wrong ones.
I liked this book a lot. It's short and compact but has a lot of muscle pumping through its graceful lines. Weber had to pack a lot into each page to get the combined effects of lost love, nostalgia, regret, nationalism, and history to blend effortlessly into a seamless whole. In the end, this novel is a solitary monologue that haunts you after you read it. It was named a New York Times Notable Book and also a Publishers Weekly Book of the Year.
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Format: Paperback
This slim volume will only occupy an hour or two of your time, but I guarantee that you will be fully engrossed. Others have summarized the plot line well enough -- most of what we read is from Patricia's journal which she keeps while hidden away in a remote part of Ireland. The "drama" is more in the emotion and her recollections of encounters with art than in the art-heist plot. Though we don't get as much information as we want, the ending is satisfying and the novella so well crafted that the worst complaint you may have is that there is not more of it. By the end, you will also have an incredible urge to find a book of Vermeer's paintings and study them up close.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After reading "Tulip Fever" and "Girl With a Pearl Earring" I was in a Vermeer state of mind. Craving more, I happened upon this little story by Katharine Weber. Not quite what I expected, it nevertheless moves freely after a deliberately murky and introspective opening by narrator art historian, Patricia Dolan. Divorced, Patricia is forever haunted by the death of her only child in an unfortunate school bus accident. Memories of her mother, also deceased, further complicate and plunge her shaky emotions into the subterrean depths of the depressed mind. Enter Mickey, the younger man, a sweet and all-male Irish relation, who charms even Patricia's ex -Boston cop father after reawakening her sexuality with his rough and tumble bedroom savoir faire. Soon Patricia finds herself in Ireland, the sentinel to a tiny priceless Vermeer painting stolen in transit from a museum show back to its owner Queen Elizabeth herself, by Mickey and his band of Irish Republican sympathizers. When Patricia realizes she has been duped, used all along for her art historian's knowledge of the painting and its crating, she must scrounge up all the courage she buried deep within her after the death of her child and her own innocence.

Slow at first as it should be, this tiny novel flounders a little as the voice of Patricia recounts her sadness. Once she establishes her emotional foundation, however, the story picks up a well-appreciated momentum, where the reader feels as if she is moving along with the tide, feeling Patricia's pain firsthand as revelation after revelation clicks into place like the pieces of a sick little jigsaw puzzle. Satisfying ending with delicious descriptions of the fictitious Vermeer and the feelings of beauty, perfection and peace the painter instills within Patricia even after all she has gone through.
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