Reviewer June Maffin:Living on an island in British Columbia, Canada, Dr. Maffin is a neophyte organic gardener, eclectic reader, ordained minister (Anglican/Episcopal priest) and creative spirituality writer/photographer with a deep zest for life. Previously, she has been grief counselor, broadcaster, teacher, journalist, television host, chaplain and spiritual director with an earned doctorate in Pastoral Care (medical ethics i.e. euthanasia focus). Presently an educator, freelance editor, blogger, and published author of three books, her most recent (Soulistry-Artistry of the Soul: Creative Ways to Nurture your Spirituality) has been published in e-book as well as paperback format and a preview can be viewed on YouTube videos. Founder of Soulistry™ she continues to lead a variety of workshops and retreats connecting spirituality with creativity and delights in a spirituality of play. You can find out more about June by clicking on her Web Site.
Author: Elena Delbanco
Publisher: Other Press
If you like novels a la Harlequin romance with a slight, but predictable, twist; if you delight in quick-read fiction, and if you enjoy reading about musicians and instruments; and this book about fictional world-renowned cellist, Alexander Feldmann, his daughter Mariana, and a love they share - The Silver Swan, a Stradivarius cello is for you.
Mariana, a brilliant cellist in her own right, sacrificed her musical career to care for Alexander in his dying years. Tragically, Alexander didn’t acknowledge that as the reason for her caring for him as he was dying. Believing it was Mariana’s stage fright that caused her to relinquish fame and fortune as a cellist rather than her decision to be his caregiver, Alexander makes a decision that brings about a devastating surprise to Mariana upon his death.
When his Will is read, Mariana learns that the Silver Swan was not bequeathed to her as she anticipated. It was bequeathed to Claude Roselle, one of Alexander’s proteges.
And then, another surprise is uncovered: Claude is the son of a woman with whom Alexander has had a longtime affair. As the novel unfolds, Mariana learns to deal with the dual shadow of the Silver Swan bequest and the secret about Alexander’s relationship with Francine, Claude’s mother.
Respect for Claude’s musical talent and a curiosity about who how he had made such an impact on Alexander so that he, not Mariana, would inherit the Silver Swan, moves Mariana to get to know Claude and she accepts an invitation to his New York debut a few days after the Will is read. In due course, they become lovers and the inevitable conclusion to the book unfolds.
Author Elena Delbanco’s father (Bernard Greenhouse) was the founding cellist of the Beaux Arts Trio so Delbanco knows about the world of the musician and writes with authenticity about that world. However, even though she was co-founder of the Bennington Writing Workshops and such a background could easily lead the reader to expect a skillfully written novel cleverly put together, the plot seems contrived, is predictable and, while love, romance, secrets and betrayal filter throughout the book, the relationship between Mariana and her father leaves much to be desired.
Predictable plot, anti-climactic conclusion aside, the author does offer insight into the demanding lifestyle of international musicians. Sadly, her editor didn’t challenge her to rewrite the ending or at least come at the conclusion in a less-obvious and less-predictable manner.