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Alice McVeigh's 'Ghost Music',
reviewed by KELLY FERJUTZ


It's entirely too bad that awards are not presented in the book industry such as the ones given for recordings or films or videos. Surely, had the opportunity been presented to nominate the best supporting character in a work of fiction, my choice would have to be that of Charmaine McKinley, who appears in chapter forty of Ghost Music by Alice McVeigh. Of course, Miss McKinley has had more years than most of us will ever see, in which to perfect herself, but Ms McVeigh deserves special kudos for gifting us with this wonderful, wizened little person.

Alice McVeigh: 'Ghost Music'
Alice McVeigh: 'Ghost Music'

It's rather obvious that such as she never existed, therefore she had to be created. And she really must be read about in order to be truly appreciated. She quite steals the book away from the other wonderfully crafted characters in this book, many of whom first appeared in While the Music Lasts, the first book by Ms McVeigh. This book would not make a very good movie, but it would be a perfectly smashing mini-series, there's that much to it.

Where to start? Well, after the above-mentioned Miss McKinley, who only appears briefly mid-book (pages 218-229), there is the delightful dish on orchestral life. If you are, or know of, a classical musician, you'll love the inside scoop, which is more accurate than most folks would believe. It is, after all, the 'unsuitable and the unspeakable united in a doomed attempt at the impossible. And they're never, by definition, as good as they used to be.' (quote from page 214)

William Mellor, after many years as cellist of the Orchestra of London has gone over to the Royal Sinfonia, one of the many orchestras resident in London. He needs the change of scene in order to balance his suddenly crumbling life. Or try to. It is, of course, impossible. To begin with, after having been informed of his tryst with a young violist by a snoopy neighbor of the violist, Isabel, his wife Margot has left him, and returned to her mother's home, wheelchair and all. Margot is struggling with multiple sclerosis, and William's default has made continued life with him untenable for her. The shock of Margot's leaving causes William to entirely break off the relationship with Isabel, who after all, has gone over to the new conductor, Karl Hochler, in her temporary loneliness.

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Copyright © 9 September 2004 Kelly Ferjutz, Cleveland USA


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