An Equal Music

By Vikram Seth
Michael is a violinist in a string quartet in London. He lives a quiet life with music being his greatest joy – he simply can’t forget the woman he loved and abandoned while he was a student in Vienna ten years ago. A chance sighting of Julia on a distant London bus brings the memories tumbling back; she eventually turns up at one of his concerts, and from there they salvage a friendship and their love. But two major events have happened to Julia between their meetings – marriage, and Seth masterfully reveals exactly what else just when the reader is beginning to think either Julia or the author is a little mad. The intimate and almost incestuous world of classical musicians is captured beautifully in this novel. The character of Julia, however, is perhaps not sufficiently developed to make the reader empathise with Michael’s obsessive love for her. Ultimately, however, the book is a success with Seth crafting a careful, intriguing tale of lives structured so tightly around music that little else except love – and often even that secondarily – exists.

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