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An Equal Music

An Equal Music

Book rating: 04 Paperback Vintage International

By (author) Vikram Seth

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  • Publisher: Random House Inc
  • Format: Paperback | 400 pages
  • Dimensions: 130mm x 201mm x 25mm | 295g
  • Publication date: 2 May 2000
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 037570924X
  • ISBN 13: 9780375709241
  • Sales rank: 141,470

Product description

The author of the international bestseller A Suitable Boy returns with a powerful and deeply romantic tale of two gifted musicians. Michael Holme is a violinist, a member of the successful Maggiore Quartet. He has long been haunted, though, by memories of the pianist he loved and left ten years earlier, Julia McNicholl. Now Julia, married and the mother of a small child, unexpectedly reenters his life and the romance flares up once more. Against the magical backdrop of Venice and Vienna, the two lovers confront the truth about themselves and their love, about the music that both unites and divides them, and about a devastating secret that Julia must finally reveal. With poetic, evocative writing and a brilliant portrait of the international music scene, An Equal Music confirms Vikram Seth as one of the world's finest and most enticing writers.

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Author information

Vikram Seth divides his time between India and London.

Customer reviews

By Marianne Vincent 07 Jan 2013 4

An Equal Music is the third novel by Indian author Vikram Seth. Michael Holme is a 37-year-old violinist who plays in the Maggiore Quartet. Ten years earlier, he left Venice and his first (and only) love, Julia McNicholl, without explanation, when he found himself unable to cope with his musical mentor's criticism. Now living in London, he encounters Julia by chance, and tries to re-establish contact. Learning, eventually, that she is now a wife and mother in no way dampens his determination to see her again. But while Julia eventually seeks him out, she has an even more devastating revelation to make. Michael describes himself, in the last pages of the book: "I'm a selfish, self-centred b*****d." Not a truer sentence does he speak in the whole novel. I found it difficult to relate to this main character and wondered if Seth intentionally made him such an arrogant, spiteful, cruel, self-indulgent and irritating man. Michael's great love, Julia, whilst perhaps a little easier to relate to, also fell remarkably freely into adultery. Their great love was not convincingly portrayed, but this does seem an interesting depiction of the anatomy of adultery from the point of view of a very selfish man. Billy, Helen, Erica and even Piers were much more likeable characters. There is much information about chamber music, quartets, performances, deafness and music auctions contained in this novel, and I believe that a knowledge and love of music would increase the reader's appreciation of the many descriptions of music playing and music attributes. While much of it was beautifully written, I found it slow moving, unsatisfying and not a patch on Seth's previous work, A Suitable Boy.

Review quote

"A beautifully written novel of music, romance, and the endless search for transcendent passion....A joy to read." -"The Baltimore Sun" "Seth depicts, with Canaletto-like skill, the shimmering air and light of Venice at dawn, even as he neatly reproduces the loving tensions of the Maggiore [Quartet]." -"The Washington Post" "A gift for any reader and a must-read for music lovers and musicians." -"The Christian Science Monitor"

Back cover copy

The author of the international bestseller A Suitable Boy returns with a powerful and deeply romantic tale of two gifted musicians. Michael Holme is a successful violinist, part of the famous Maggiore Quartet. He has long been haunted, though, by memories of the beautiful pianist he loved ten years earlier, Julia McNicholl. Then one day Julia comes back into his life: married now, with a small child and a devastating secret.The romance flares up once more, as Julia agrees to tour Vienna and Venice with Michael and the Quartet. Against the magical backdrop of concert halls and canals, Michael and Julia confront the truth about themselves, their love, and the music that both unites and divides them. A tour de force of romance and a superb picture of the international music scene, An Equal Music confirms Vikram Seth as one of the world's finest and most enticing writers.

Flap copy

The author of the international bestseller A Suitable Boy returns with a powerful and deeply romantic tale of two gifted musicians. Michael Holme is a violinist, a member of the successful Maggiore Quartet. He has long been haunted, though, by memories of the pianist he loved and left ten years earlier, Julia McNicholl. Now Julia, married and the mother of a small child, unexpectedly reenters his life and the romance flares up once more. Against the magical backdrop of Venice and Vienna, the two lovers confront the truth about themselves and their love, about the music that both unites and divides them, and about a devastating secret that Julia must finally reveal. With poetic, evocative writing and a brilliant portrait of the international music scene, An Equal Music confirms Vikram Seth as one of the world's finest and most enticing writers.