The first thing that strikes me, of course, is the similarity here to the Amazon Prime series, Mozart in the Jungle. Classical music, a big city orchestra, and the wide variety of relationships going on off stage. And, yeah, that’s okay with me. I liked Mozart in the Jungle (the TV series) and I enjoyed While the Music Lasts. The book follows a variety of people, connected by the Orchestra of London, and their lives and loves, accomplishments and failures, desires and disappointments.
Isabel Bonner is viola player with the Orchestra of London. She’s in her thirties, insecure, and hops around from bed to bed until she meets and focuses completely on an older, married man – a cellist with the orchestra.
Mirabel Felton, a horn player, is raped by the orchestra conductor. She dies in an accident and her will surprises Elaine Brown, her best friend, as it wills all her fortune to Elaine … as long as Elaine will leave her jerk of a husband.
There is also a concert-going heiress who hooks up with a Tarot card reading cellist, and a misogynist gay man who learns that an ex-lover has AIDS.
This is an interesting book as it doesn’t have a central plot, but rather uses a central location (the Orchestra of London) as a character and a focal point around which the loves and lives of these people revolve.
I thought that author Alice McVeigh did a really nice job of capturing the different voices and didn’t make them sound too much the same. She also really managed to capture some truly human moments.
…it struck me again how, in some ways, we share ourselves even more deeply with other women than with our husbands – not that we don’t love men better, but they’re a different species, very nearly a different culture, and farther from us.
‘They complete us,’ Mirabel once said, ‘but we can’t travel on parallel courses with them, side by side. With men there’s always a collision, isn’t there, sometimes good, sometimes not so good.
Sometimes the moments are humorous (“She had never to her knowledge met either an anarchist or a homosexual before, and the mixture seemed at once too rich and too thrilling to bear.”) and sometimes they seem a little overwritten:
The doorbell – its measured announcement like an offstage trumpet – roused Isabel from her preparations. How many times, she wondered, as she put down the lit candle and moved to the door, how many times and still the startled gearchange of the pulse? Spring had eased into summer, into autumn, the day’s pace had lengthened then started inexorably to shrink again yet still came the prickling nervousness, that it would end, that it couldn’t last, that it was too genuine to last, and too crucial.
But overall I enjoyed meeting these people and being a voyeur of their lives.
Looking for a good book? While the Music Lasts by Alice McVeigh is a glimpse of the lives and loves of a group of people connected through a professional orchestra in Great Britain.
I received a digital copy of this book from the author, through LibraryThing.com, in exchange for an honest review.
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While the Music Lasts
author: Alice McVeigh
publisher: Warleigh Hall Press