Reviewer Sandy Graham: Born and raised in Canada, Sandy spent 35 years with The Boeing Company in a variety of engineering and management positions. After retirement, he satisfied a long-standing urge to delve into creative writing. Sandy has authored three novels, Two Loves Lost, The Pizza Dough King and Murder – On Salt Spring?
The Music…Oh, The Music is a poetic journey through the final reminiscences of a once famous now dying woman. Elonora was born into a wealthy, aristocratic family living in the last years of Czarist Russia. In a culture worshipping the arts, Elonora emerged as a plain looking, sensitive violin virtuoso. The fame she attained in Europe’s concert halls created a vicious jealousy in her beautiful, self-centered younger sister.
Elonora’s cultural world was destroyed by the onslaught of Nazi Germany, forcing her to flee with her French husband to French controlled Cambodia. The pro-Nazi Vichy government in France was duplicated in Cambodia. Elonora and her husband spent the remainder of the war in a Japanese prison camp. Once freed, they travelled to Montreal where her sister’s daughter had become wealthy. Elonora had a nervous breakdown when her husband died and the niece took advantage of the situation to have her committed to avenge her mother’s false outrage.
Now, the once famous Elonora is dying in obscurity and the book chronicles her last thoughts and memories in a series of prose sketches, each covering the ghost of a character in her life. Noumoff writes in a highly poetic style, almost poetry in prose format. As the sketches unfold, the sentences shrink from reality toward illusion, presumably reflecting the dying woman’s mental state. Like poetry, the book almost needs to be read twice (some passages even more often) to gain a true appreciation for the message conveyed. The early chapters should be read carefully to become oriented in the story. Noumoff intersperses phrases from other authors and then feels compelled to acknowledge the source. She is too gifted a writer to need them and their inclusion leaves an unwelcome flavor of academia.
Although not explicitly stated in the book, one gets the impression the story really involves the plight of highly cultured, artistically gifted European Jews under the onslaught of Nazi atrocities. In fact, the holocaust’s effect on survivors is lamented in later chapters. The point is made that most Germans and many throughout the world live on in indifference refusing to face the guilt the holocaust should rightfully engender. The book can almost be considered a cry on behalf of the declining number of survivors living out the remainder of their lives in obscurity.
Whether The Music…Oh, the Music or the memories…Oh, the memories, this book provides a wealth of images and depth of prose which can be read once or delved into to the heart’s content.