Monday, October 3, 2011

by Jennifer Donnelly

This book has been popping up everywhere, but it was Sandy’s recommendation that made me finally pick it up. I listened to the audio version which was the perfect format for this.

The novel gives us two separate stories. First there is Andi, a teen living in Brooklyn who is struggling with the death of her younger brother, Truman. Overwhelmed with grief, she’s been falling behind at school and has been thinking about committing suicide. Her estranged father whisks her off to Paris over Christmas break to try to get her back on the right path.

Andi’s passion is music, specifically guitar. She’s incredibly talented and spends her time in Paris busking and researching the famous French composer, Amade Malherbeau. In the midst of her research, she finds the journal of Alexandrine, a young woman who lived during the French Revolution. Alex’s story is the second one to unfold. Her journey leads her to become the nanny to Louis Charles, son of King Louis XVI.

Donnelly managed to perfectly capture the voice of a broken teenage girl. She makes Andi both sympathetic and frustrating. You want to slap her and give her a hug at the same time. That voice made the whole book ring true for me.

My only real issue with the book was the ending, I didn’t love. But at the same time, I’m not sure how I wanted it to end. It felt a bit rushed and forced in the moments leading up to the conclusion. I did love the final pages which give a roundup of who ended up where, that felt right.

In so many ways, this book is a love song to the power of music. It has the power to rise above time and grief, and it binds people together despite their differences. That’s what I’ll take away from it and I’m so glad I read it. I’m looking forward to trying Donnelly’s Rose trilogy, which I’ve heard great things about.

“I’m wishing he could see that music lives. Forever. That it’s stronger than death. Stronger than time. And that its strength holds you together when nothing else can.”

“History is a Rorschach test people,” she said. “What you see when you look at it tells you as much about yourself as it does about the past.”


Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I have two Jennifer Donnelly books waiting to be read...not sure why I haven't picked either of them up yet. I love when authors merge contemporary and historical times together with two stories.

Mumsy said...

I liked this one so much that I went straight to her "Rose" books, and then to "Northern Light." Alas for me, I did not love any of them at all. I think I would have liked the Rose books twenty years ago; I'm just not into sweeping sagas anymore.

Agree with all you said about Revolution, too, especially the slightly disappointing denouement. I've read it twice more since the first time, though, because like you, I love Andi's voice.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Loved this audio...LOVED it. OMG the music, the history, Virgil, it was amazing. I have her Tea Rose Trilogy on my Kindle, I just need to find like a month to read them. They are insanely long.

Trisha said...

I've had this one on the shelves for so long. Sad, but true. :)

Jenners said...

I'm planning on reading all of Donnelly's stuff eventually so I'm sure I'll get to this. I have A Northern Light to try next, but I think you'll dig The Rose Trilogy. I got very sucked into it.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Natalie - I tend to like that too. Historical fiction, when done well, has always been a favorite.

Mumsy - That's a bummer about the rest of her books. I'm planning on trying the Rose Trilogy, but maybe I should keep my expectations low.

Sandy - You definitely got me to read this one and I'm so glad I did! It was perfect on audio.

Trisha - That happens to me far too often. So many books, so little time.

Jenners - The Rose Trilogy is next on my list. I think it sounds great.

Jenny said...

I'm still planning on trying the Rose trilogy, but I've decided to go in with low expectations. I liked Revolution but didn't love it, and I don't want to set myself up to be disappointed in Donnelly's other books.

Jillian said...

I've been debating whether or not I should check this one out. I feel like it could be good, but then again, I have way too many books I want to read already that I don't want my tbr list to explode. I think I'll add it in though.. because yenno, I trust you with your recommendations!!

Ana S. said...

I need to read this! I've only read A Northern Light so far, but I absolutely loved that one.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jenny - I think that's wise. It seems like my high expectations always get me in trouble.

Jillian - I think my main complaint would be the teenage complaining (kinda like HP in book 5) but if you can let that go it's worth it.

Nymeth - Maybe I'll read that one before committing to the big Rose Trilogy.

Kailana said...

I really enjoyed this book. I am glad you enjoyed it, too!

Unruly Reader said...

Ooh -- so glad you read this book! I read it after hearing a rave review on the Books on the Nightstand podcast -- so glad I read it.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Unruly Reader - I never would have read this if I hadn't read a few rave reviews. I love it when that happens.