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Walter William Melnyk is a novelist, poet, violinist and weaver. He lives in a small log cabin atop a wooded mountain in Tennessee. Melnyk now plays the actual "Pavel's Violin," which he received from his Czech teacher, who is a member of Pavel's family. The experience of researching and writing the novel moved him to adopt Judaism, as a member of the Society for Humanistic Judaism. He is donating all his royalties from the book to the United States Holocaust Museum, and other Holocaust Memorials.
This book has touched my deepest soul and surprisingly that of my 11 year old Goddaughter who is studying the Subject matter. We have read the book simultaneously with my guidance along the way. We have both laughed, cried and then actually mourned the book characters. A must read for everyone remotely interested in the plight of our Jewish brothers and sisters during the war. As my signed copy reads, "may we never forget."
The best part of the book was the first section, the part about Stainer's life -- Jacob Stainer was the luthier, the man who built the violin about which this novel is being told. There was much rich detail about the art of making a violin, and about the man's personality and family and professional life. I understand this is a historical fiction, and so not likely as it actually happened, but the period of time came alive through the interpretation of the life of this one man. The middle section was okay, and I think either it should have been given the same attention as the first section or just mentioned in order to bridge between the first part and the section about the Holocaust. The section on the Holocaust was gripping, but the violin played a minor part in it. I don't feel the author made enough of a connection between Pavel and the violin. And the ending was highly unsatisfying for me. I would have wanted more about how Pavel's life developed after having come into possession of the violin -- It was like: okay, he's got the violin and now I (author) have it. The end. I hope this criticism makes sense.
This book is one of those books that will stay with you a very long time. I read the author's notes after finishing this remarkable book. I am also a student of music and am so amazed about how music can inspire people. Melnyk was inspired to tell this haunting yet hopeful story when he became the owner and player of Pavel's Violin. The story is real, a vivid accountant of the people who lived through an unthinkable time in our history. Melnyk writes: "I hope you will not just learn about what happened,, but that you will become part of the story, yourself"......."I hope that you will not only hear the Violin, but you will experience the playing of it". Well he (the author) takes you there. You are one with the characters, and experience their pain, suffering, hope, and joy. And you hear the music. The wonderful music. The universal language that heals. The Song of Hope... The author has selflessly pledged to donate all proceeds from the sale of this book to the United States Holocaust Museum and other Holocaust Memorials.