Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Novel in the Viola - Natasha Solomons | Book Review

(Sometimes known as 'The House at Tyneford', I know confusing right? Oh I see. This other name is the US version; confusion resolved.) 

This was amazing! It really was one of those type of books. Now I know what I mean by that, but I'm not exactly sure how to get it across; it is one of those where the writing is just soso good that all of the sentences keep enticing you to read and read. The phrasing is so beautiful and the words feel so true and meaningful that you really do feel attached to the characters. These are my favourite kinds of books and this has definitely gone up to the top of the list!
Elise Landau lives with her wonderful parents and sister at their beautiful home in Vienna. They are a wealthy Jewish family and the story starts just before 1939. Yes, this is a war story, however quite unlike any that I have read previously. Her father is an author and he tells Elise that he has hidden his final novel in the viola, which she lacks the ability to play. Unlike her mother and sister, Elise is not blessed with musical talent and so she feels underwhelmed and as if she is a disapointment to her mother who is a world renowned performer. Her sister, Margo, is expected to follow in her footsteps. Yet with the war starting, Elise must move to England and become a house maid in order to protect herself and provide money for her family. It is Tyneford which for Elise then becomes home. 
The Master of the house takes kindly to Elise, unlike the other residents of the house. She struggles to get along with the daily tasks of servants and maids, having come from a bourgeoisie family previously where she has been used to being served on. Yet then she meets Kit, the Master's son and well I'm sure everyone could see where this is going. The two of them together cause outrage to the rest of the household, yet as teenagers they really don't care. And why would they? War is inevitable and on the horizon meaning that Kit will soon be leaving. Thus they must both learn how to change and adapt. Yet this is not where the story ends. I won't carry on so as not to ruin it, however it really is a gripping tale. 

There is little that I won't read, and I never read blurbs of books (I will not tolerate any sort of spoiler) and so I would never shy away from a book because it is set during the time of war, or that it is 'just another romance novel'. This book is so much more than both of those and I would definitely recommend it for anyone that really appreciates great writing and a thoroughly gripping story. 

Next Up: The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion