Ron's Staff Pick: Wow! This is a great story, a fantastic novel that is dying to be read.
Elise Blackwell is a wonderful writer, a crisp, elegant, pithy writer. Listen to this passage:
There is no black on the right side of her closet, the side of her days. The clothes there are gray, white, blue, green and tan. On hangers are a purple blouse, a red tee-shirt, and a pair of maroon pants – a gift from Petra she has worn only once.
The left side of her closet is monotonous night: solid black, the attire of performance. Like a widow in eternal mourning, Suzanne has pairs of black trousers, black skirts, black jackets, and black shirts. She has a black sweater, long and short-sleeved black dresses, the formal black dresses of the soloist and plain orchestra dresses, black dresses designed to be seen from the opera boxes and those seen to best advantage from the floor…
Suzanne distributes water glasses, and they take their usual seats around the food. Adele lifts her glass, leaving behind a wet circle she traces with a fingertip. She looks at the food, at each of them. Had they been a household of three, which for a while it seemed they might be, family dinners would have been shaped by sound. Rising or falling, or stalled, but always sound or its absence. But Ben and Suzanne’s baby did not arrive, and after Petra and Adele made them a quartet, they worked to make a world defined by sight, touch, smell, taste rather than by sound and not sound.
And this one:
The grief is for Alex, mostly, but it bleeds into the sadness she feels every time music is made and then gone – something real and loud in the air that disappears from all but memory. Sometimes Suzanne strains to imagine the music still living, playing on in some version of reality not organized by time, all its notes together like colors in black paint or white light. It might be a place, she thinks now, in which you can love two people without diminishing either.
With this wonderful prose Elise Blackwell tackles a tough subject: fidelity. Her story asks the question “What do you owe?” to your child, your best friend and her child, to your lover, your husband, yourself, your colleagues, your art. And she does so while telling a compelling story, a mystery, full of tension and surprise.
This is a story embedded in music. But you don’t need to love or understand music to love this book. The characters bring the music alive and make An Unfinished Score sing!