An Equal Music

The violinist hero of Vikram Seth s third novel would very much like to be hearing secret harmonies Instead, living in London 10 years after a key disaster, Michael Holme is easily irritated by his beautiful young and even French girlfriend and by his colleagues in the Maggiore Quartet In short, he s fed up with playing second fiddle in life and art Yet a chance encoThe violinist hero of Vikram Seth s third novel would very much like to be hearing secret harmonies Instead, living in London 10 years after a key disaster, Michael Holme is easily irritated by his beautiful young and even French girlfriend and by his colleagues in the Maggiore Quartet In short, he s fed up with playing second fiddle in life and art Yet a chance encounter with Julia, the pianist he had loved and lost in Vienna, brings Michael sudden bliss Her situation, however and the secret that may end her career threatens to undo the lovers An Equal Music is a fraction of the size of Seth s A Suitable Boy, but is still deliciously expansive In under 400 pages, the author offers up exquisite complexities, personal and lyrical, while deftly fielding any fears that he s composed a Harlequin for highbrows During one emotional crescendo, Michael tells Julia, I don t know how I ve lived without you all these years, only to realize, how feeble and trite my words sound to me, as if they have been plucked out of some housewife fantasy In addition to the pitch of its love story, one of the book s joys lies in Seth s creation of musical extremes As the Maggiore rehearses, moving from sniping and impatience to perfection, the author expertly notates the joys of collaboration, trust, and creation It s the weirdest thing, a quartet, one member remarks I don t know what to compare it to A marriage a firm a platoon under fire a self regarding, self destructive priesthood It has so many different tensions mixed in with its pleasures An Equal Music is a novel in which the length of Schubert s Trout Quintet matters deeply, the discovery of a little known Beethoven opus is a miracle, and each instrument has its own being Just as Michael can t hope to possess Julia, he cannot even dream of owning his beloved Tononi, the violin he has long had only on loan And it goes without saying that Vikram Seth knows how to tell a tale, keeping us guessing about everything from what the Quartet s four minute encore will be to what really occasioned Julia s departure from Michael s life Or was it in fact Michael who abandoned Julia As this love story ranges from London to Michael s birthplace in the north of England to Vienna to Venice, few readers will remain deaf to its appeals Kerry Fried
An Equal Music The violinist hero of Vikram Seth s third novel would very much like to be hearing secret harmonies Instead living in London years after a key disaster Michael Holme is easily irritated by his be

  • Title: An Equal Music
  • Author: Vikram Seth
  • ISBN: 9781861591173
  • Page: 310
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 1 thought on “An Equal Music”

    1. It’s the weirdest thing, a quartet. I don’t know what to compare it to. A marriage? a firm? a platoon under fire? a self-regarding, self-destructive priesthood? It has so many different tensions mixed in with its pleasures.I was absolutely enthralled with Seth’s two novels “The Golden Gate” and “A Suitable Boy” and so I couldn’t wait to start reading this book. But it turned out to have an odd effect on me as I alternatively loved and hated it. I couldn’t understand this at all [...]

    2. Your words have given me life and taken sleep away. The park gates open at first light. Slate-grey and coral, dawn is reflected in the pool. The flowers have been turfed under in the sunken garden. The chack of a squirrel, the splash of a small duck, a blackbird hopping about beneath the thinned-out linden hedge: this is all. I am alone with this troubled joy.That beautiful, gray day when I found you, Equal Music, a parallel to those drops of hard rain on windowpanes. Go to the used bookstore wh [...]

    3. Seeing this much-lauded novel on one of my bookshelves yesterday reminded me to post a review.I read this several years ago, when it was being fêted by culturati luvvies the world over."A masterpiece as clear, lovely and civilised as a Schubert quartet" -Daily Mail"Seth follows the heart's changes as rigorously as if they were the interweaving lines of a Bach score, and, at its frequent best, his prose, as he intends, is as clear, lovely, inexorable, as a fugue." -Evening StandardI, on the oth [...]

    4. I have never gone as low and as fast in my opinion of a book as with 'An Equal Music'. After the first 25 pages, I felt that I'd stumbled on to something incredible (no doubt helped by the very simple writing, which was a refreshing change from Salman Rushdie's tediousness); but after a 100 pages it became clear that it was incredible, just the wrong type - incredibly bad.The story is about a violinist who is reunited with his lost love after 10 years. She has re-married and has a child, yet see [...]

    5. I was surprised by how much i loved this book. It's blow off your travelling companions and curl up in your youth hostel until you finish it good. It's finish it and then wish you hadn't so you could read it again for the first time good. The tension in the love story is addictive. But what I loved most was the way Seth writes about music. the way he integrates music into the lives of the characters (all professional musicians) is more than convincing, it's intoxicating.

    6. The smell of rosin on a bow, the satisfaction of slow scales played with a partner, the sleepy somnolence of working a piece through in your head just before sleep - I miss these things. I forget them too. Vikram Seth lent them back to me this week. I’ve read An Equal Music before, quickly. This read, with bed rest time to spin through, I read it page by page, at half tempo. It was delicious. Seth recreates the world of a violinist in a string quartet, bringing in the human element of chamber [...]

    7. There are things I loved about this book and things I did not love, but the bottom line is that after finishing it I sat for 15 minutes and just pondered it. That's good. I have read a few reviews stating a disdain for the narrator - he's whinny, he's selfish, he's annoying. Yes, those things are true enough. But I like that Seth didn't make a heroic main character. The fact is that a person going through a failed love affair generally tends to be those things. Argue with that all you wish! I fe [...]

    8. This book appealed to the writer, the artist, the poet in me. This book reads like poetry. Each sentence, phrase, group of words, a symphony, a melodic soliloquy of language speaking fervently and in depth to the heart, mind, body, soul, bone, marrow, blood. I read, rather sang this book from page to page. Finding myself enveloped, enraptured within the music of each verse. Intoxicated, melding myself comfortably between cover and cover. Eyes closed, mind open. Entranced, I became one with Micha [...]

    9. I was disappointed in this book. I was looking forward to a novel that had lots of musical detail in it and it definitely succeeded there, and the writing about playing was excellent. But the prose surrounding the main plot of the novel was extremely self-conscious, overwrought and annoying. I didn't find much to like in the main character (beyond his talents as a musician, which came across) and couldn't see any reason for this great love that existed between him and Julia.

    10. 3.25Since reading A Suitable Boy a couple of years back, I was highly impressed by the writing style and character sketch of Vikram Seth. An Equal Music has been on my radar since then. Got a paperback recently, and the beautiful cover added to the charm of diving into this. BR with Smi motivated me further.What I loved:1. Chapters are structured exactly like A Suitable Boy. Small chapters with indices like 1.1 to 1.13 etc.2. Gripping right from the start.3. Excessive use of musical jargons, whi [...]

    11. This is the story of the Maggiore Quartet composed by Michael, Piers, Helen (brother and sister) and Billy.However the main plot involves the love story between Michael - a music student in Vienna and Julia McNicol, a pianist.After a nervous breakdown, Michael unexpectedly leaves Vienna as well as Julia. A few months later, we didn’t manage to contact Julia.By a faith of destiny, ten years later, Michael saw her in a bus in London, tries to pursuit her but she got lost in the traffic.While in [...]

    12. There is one thing the book really excels in: describing music.Musical aspects are really recognizable (if u are a musician) and well worked out.You can almost feel it flow out of the pages during rehearsals and concerts that take place.The plot was interesting, although there wasn't much happening in the middle of the book.Writing is almost poetical in some parts, somehow matching the love and music themes.

    13. The book is about music, love and struggle. It’s not a typically happy book – because it shows you a lot of happiness and then takes it away. I’ve come to believe that it’s a soulful book.Michael Holmes is a violinist. He plays for the Maggiore Quartet. He’s in love with Julia McNicholl. Julia is a very gifted pianist. Julia and Michael go their separate ways and before they meet again, Julia would have married and have had a child. They meet. Love and music is in the air. And then it [...]

    14. This is a beautiful love story and it is a musical tale. The importance of music cannot be emphasized too strongly for, from the title page to the last paragraph music permeates each character. The protagonist, Michael Holme has a spiritual connection with music and with the instrument, a Tononi violin, that he uses to express his music. This goes beyond playing a piece of music, whether Schubert or Bach or Beethoven, and enters his soul and through the prose of Vikram Seth enters the soul of th [...]

    15. Am not equal to dissecting or reviewing An Equal Music.Suffice to say that it was a wonderful experience, especially to a person who is not passionate about classical music and who doesn't know the ABCD thereof. Though I couldn't comprehend differences between D minor, F etc i enjoyed reading about the musical dilemmas.Loved the interaction between the music fraternity. The poignant bitter love story was an added bonus.Mike, Julia, other members of the quarter and the whole premise of this beaut [...]

    16. I read almost half of this book yesterday, and was left somewhat perplexed. There was some nice writing about music, but apart from that - nothing. I mean, there was a plot and characters and so on, but so banal! So mundane! Well, ok, so maybe it wasn't completely banal and mundane - love and so on, of course. Deafness. Children and marriage in the wrong places for our brave protagonist. But it was slightly dramatic in such a conventional way! Why?A good author should be able to make the slightl [...]

    17. Dive into the heart and mind of a obsessive, melancoly, melodramatic violinist who can't let go of the love of his life, a person who he had ditched out on. But seriously, this is a beautifully written book about love and music and loving music. I am not a professional musician, I played piano when I was young, but not that well, and to the reviews I've seen that found classical music oriented parts of the book to difficult or too obscure or too distracting, so as to be suitable only for those w [...]

    18. I thought the bones of the story were solid, and the images of music provoking. However, all my positive feelings for this book were swallowed up by how much I disliked the character of Michael. He spent the whole book whinging and complaining about how much he missed Julia and wallowing in a pool of self-pity. I found him selfish, arrogant and pathetic, so much so he ruined the book for me. I did not find his pursuit of Julia romantic, but felt for the poor woman and begged Michael to leave her [...]

    19. I even question giving this book as much as 2 stars. This is an adequate but Unimpressive character study about professional musicians and the lives they lead, but is cancerous plagued by a main character so supremely and wholly unlikable that I cannot fathom why Vikram Seth wrote him that way. He doesn't gain anything or change, not really. He is only barely more infantile at the end of the book than at the beginning. The entire main plot of this book is technically serviceable, but serves no r [...]

    20. This was a very different Vikram Seth than I got from the other two of his books I've read. Very pretty and sophisticated. I'm not that musically educated, but I thought I managed well enough. Maybe not though, given that I felt as if there was no resolution or even really a concern for one. It seemed more musically structured than focusing on the idea of a resolution, for good or ill. The various bits progressed and moved, and that was all fine and good, but it felt more concerned with the tone [...]

    21. This book promised SO much and delivered so little.The ending was perfect. It made me gasp and then simultaneously smile and almost sob a little. It was simple, heartrending and beautiful - everything that the rest of the book tried to but couldn't be. The love story, if it could even be called that, was so shallow. We never really did find out what it was that made Michael fall so deeply in love with Julia, we were never shown how they once were together, what made them "fit" together; we were [...]

    22. This is a love story of sorts depicting a ménage à trois between violinist Michael, pianist and old flame, Julia, and classical music (especially Romantic). There's a bit more to it in characterization and personification, but suffice it to say that music is a demanding and jealous lover. The story and the prose progress in their own masterful and entrancing way, starting rather simply and generically (as per convention), and gradually spilling forth resplendent and mysterious poetic unravelli [...]

    23. Seth's An Equal Music was fabulously executed - his prose was flawless such that it leapt off the page straight into my brain. The discussions of music were fascinating to me because my level of musical knowledge is And yet I had a hard time reading this - it's relatively thin compared with A Suitable Boy, but the bottom line was that I found the protagonist to be irritating. He ruined his first relationship by being an undependable flake and then spent 10 years moping about, unable to really co [...]

    24. A tour de force. Enthralling. Unequalled by anything I have read before that has music as a central theme. And such music; the music I love. J.S.Bach, The Art of Fugue, Schubert, String Quartets, the ‘Trout’ Quintet, Haydn String Quartets - all played by the renowned Maggiore Quartet of which the protagonist Michael plays second violin (occasionally the first). Michael, who walked out on love ten years ago in Vienna. Julia, a highly accomplished pianist was devastated by his desertion. A pia [...]

    25. I must admit, I've never been an ardent fan of classical music and never learned to play an instrument. As I read the book, however, for the first time in my life, I wished I had. Seth's descriptive, highly sensitive, almost poetic writing allows readers like myself to catch a glimpse of the world of classical instrumental music, from the inside. One's heart goes out to Julia for her loss, and also for the fact that she still loved Michael and allowed him to take advantage of that fact. I do not [...]

    26. It is hard to believe this is the same author of A Suitable Boy! Just as Seth wrapped you up in the world of upper-caste India in the mid 50s, amidst amazing social and political change, now you are led gently into the contemporary classical music scene of London, Vienna, Venice; a love story, a tragedy, a loving tribute to chamber music and insights into the world of performance. THe laughter and lightheartedness in A Suitable Boy are absent here; the characters are treated with almost too much [...]

    27. A love story. A very vivid portrayal of losing the love of your life. Why Michael left Julia in Vienna wasn't really explained to my satisfaction. Not believable considering how much he loved her. Beautifully written as always but too much detailed reference about the mechanism of constructing music much of which was lost on me. I did appreciate the emotional significance of music on the main characters. Overall a 3!

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