Follow Here To Purchase The Silver Swan

Author: Elena Delbanco

Publisher: Other Press

ISBN: 978-159051716

Elena Delbanco's debut work of fiction tells the story of a priceless Stradivarius violoncello of 1712, known as the Silver Swan. The owner, Alexander Feldmann considered the instrument as a member of his family and would often tell his only child, Mariana that she didn't need a sibling as she had the Swan. Incidentally, Mariana and her mother had sacrificed a great deal so that Alexander could purchase the Swan which was at an enormous expense causing for many years their resources to go largely for the paying off the cost of the instrument.

Alexander dies and bequeaths the Silver Swan to his former student, Claude Roselle in recognition of his great artistry and his special relationship to him as his gifted student. Apropos, Claude is the the son of Alexander's mistress of forty years, Francine Roselle, something that is divulged to Mariana in a letter addressed to her which she discovers after her father's death. As for why the violoncello was bequeathed to Claude, Alexander states in his will that he is leaving it to Claude because Mariana no longer performs as a soloist.

Mariana is shocked considering that her father had promised to leave her the violoncello, although she does inherit a property in Stockbridge, all of his stocks, savings, pensions, personal effects, his collection of the nine copies of the Silver Swan, his collection of bows, all of his papers and manuscripts.

As events unfold, we learn that Mariana was a promising accomplished musician in her own right and due to various unfortunate circumstances decided to leave the concert stage. In addition, we read that as a devoted daughter, she attended to her father's needs during the latter years of his life as her mother had predeceased him. Furthermore, we get wind of her love affair with a married man, several years her senior and who was a well-known Russian conductor. Eventually, the relationship had ended badly when the conductor dumped her leaving her devastated.

Mariana is appalled about the chain of events that has transpired particularly concerning her father's disloyalty, the punishment he had dealt her for failing to live up to his expectations, as well as the bequest of the violoncello to Claude and the discovery of her father's adulterous relationship with Claude's mother. Nonetheless and surprisingly, she and Claude become linked together due to the violoncello and eventually enter into a passionate love relationship which will have unforeseen, disturbing and startling revelations.

It is always a pleasant surprise and pure delight when a debut novelist crafts an outstanding narrative replete with vivid dialogue and superlative character development which makes the novel live and breathe. And what really stands out in the novel is the ease, the fluidity, the economy and the precision of Delbanco's storytelling resulting in a sheer pleasure to read. In the end what we have is a skillful first novel that definitely deserves a wide readership.

It should be noted that Elena Delbanco is the daughter of the esteemed cellist Bernard Greenhouse, who did in fact own the Countess of Stainlein ex-Paganini Stradivarious violoncello of 1707, which was auctioned for millions of dollars in 2012. The imagined fate of the instrument upon her father's death inspired the writing of this book.