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<<  -- 3 --  Kelly Ferjutz    WHILE THE MUSIC LASTS


There are occasionally other persons wandering through this story, but they have no lingering parts to play. Told in a mixture of flashbacks, diary entries and straight narrative, each person has his or her own voice and tale to tell. There are, of course, surprises and non-surprises. It is almost a slice of life, spread out over a year's time (or thereabouts) but usually the story is about Isabel and William.

At times a line or phrase jumps right off the page, so perfect is it. Isabel about William, for instance: 'If love was a foreign country, let him be my interpreter ...' About Mirabel's achievement: 'horn sections are to this day, bastions of male chauvinism.' (My own first experience of this was some fifty years ago, and it's still true now!) Piotr about David: 'I would have spoken further, but without my thesaurus, I was stymied.' Delicious!

I've now read this book three times in the last four months, so enchanted am I with the people in it, and their trials and tribulations. I don't think one has to have ever studied music in order to appreciate it -- people are people the world over. Certainly knowing one instrument from another does help a bit in picturing the placement of the various instruments on stage, but that's not infallible, either, as ultimately, seating is determined by the maestro of the moment.

The ending is not necessarily a happy one, although there are little happinesses for some of the characters, and serious grief for others, but the saga of Isabel and William, along with all of the above, is continued to some degree in the sequel, Ghost Music.

This isn't exactly a 'beach book' as it's hardly light and fluffy in content or nature, but it is eminently enjoyable. I'd whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone who appreciates wit and perception in their fiction. Summer or winter, makes no difference. It's a must-read in my book!

Copyright © 19 August 2004 Kelly Ferjutz, Cleveland USA


While the Music Lasts
Alice McVeigh

Orion, 1995, ISBN 1-85797-939-7, hardback
Phoenix, 1995, ISBN 1-85799-342-X, paperback
320 pages

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