As February 14th rolled round I started thinking I should probably write a blog about love and romance in fiction. Despite much scouring of my shelves for inspiration, however, none was forthcoming. The greatest love stories ever? There’s pretty much nothing left to say about those, surely. Jane Eyre and Rochester, Elizabeth and Darcy… when it comes to literature’s most enduring romances there are too few surprises to warrant 500 words of blogging space. So, love and romance abandoned, I decided (somewhat randomly) to move on to the theme of music, a subject that has provided the backdrop for some of my most favourite novels. It was only after I started pulling together my top my top 5 that I realised: almost without exception, all these novels with music at their heart are also profoundly moving love stories. Handy for me of course, as it brings me back full circle to my original idea of a Valentines blog; but also perhaps an interesting comment on how our artistic and romantic passions are inextricably connected. So without further ado…
My top 5 musical novels!
- “Music and Silence” by Rose Tremain – I love almost everything that Rose Tremain has written, and the winning combination of music and history (2 of my favourite things) might just make this my favourite of her novels by an inch!
- “The Conductor” by Sarah Quigley – a reimagining of the events surrounding the creation of Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony, and a compelling portrait of a turbulent time in Russia’s history.
- “Longing” by J D Landis – this is based on the real-life romance between composer Robert Schumann and virtuoso pianist Clara Wieck. Not all moonlight and roses by any means, but the sorrow that often permeated their relationship makes it ring all the more true.
- “Symphony” by Jude Morgan – another love story based on the life of a classical composer, this time the tormented genius Hector Berlioz. Passion walks hand in hand with madness in this beautiful but heart-rending tale.
- “An Equal Music” by Vikram Seth – an understated, slow-burning love story of two souls who live for music … and each other? Gorgeous.
Happy Valentine’s day!