Michael Holme is an English violinist who falls in love with Julia McNicholl, whom he meets at the Musikhochschule in Vienna, Austria. Julia is the pianist in a trio with Michael and a cellist, but when the group breaks up, their relationship also fails. In the aftermath, Michael joins a string quartet that becomes well-known in music circles, but Julia is still in his thoughts. When he next encounters her, she is married, has a child, and, as he discovers, is losing her hearing. She nonetheless agrees to go on tour with the quartet, and their romance rekindles. Seth has written a powerful story of obsessive love in his usual lyrical style.
Equally importantly, though, Seth has also deftly captured the challenges and rewards of playing chamber music. In a small ensemble each player is fully exposed, and there is no opportunity to hide a lack of preparation or skill. The personal dynamics between the players are also crucial to the success of the performance. Seth understands and conveys the interactions between the quartet’s members and the passion and dedication that compels and informs their playing. The writing about music here is as rich as the writing about characters.
This title makes for a great book discussion book, and the library has a set of An Equal Music in our Gab Bags collection