Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Review: An Unfinished Score by Elise Blackwell
It was a great honor for me to receive an ARC from such an accomplished author. Elise Blackwell's past triumphs include many short stories, cultural criticisms, as well as three novels: Hunger, The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish and Grub. An Unfinished Score is her latest novel, but hopefully not the last.
The novel tells the story of a viola player named Suzanne who hears the news that her lover is dead. Dealing with her grief takes a toll on her, especially as she has to hide it from her husband Ben and best friend Petra, who lives with them, along with her deaf daughter Adele. Soon enough, Suzanne gets a call from her lover's widow who is not without secrets of her own and Suzanne's world slowly starts unraveling.
Elise Blackwell's fourth novel is a slow, contemplative read that manages to penetrate the very basic of our thoughts and ideas with her sharp prose. Painful subjects such as infidelity and relevance are brought in focus, while traditionally accepted values are scrutinized, sometimes with devastating effects. Is music really that similar to love, when one knows one is always perfectly orchestrated and the other always unpredictable? Can art really provide comfort? And how can one ever blame someone else for anything, if humans seem inherently vicious?
An Unfinished Score is a literary tour-de-force, one I am happy I've read and one I'm happy to recommend.