3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
An imperfectly written love story,
This review is from: The Song House (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)I'm torn between loving and hating this book, but on balance I'm upset because it has a fantastic plot, yet the writing really doesn't deliver on its promise.
Kenneth Earl is in his sixties and losing his memory, and wants to hire an ammanuensis to catalogue his thoughts and emotions as they relate to his beloved music collection - so that in future he will be able to read back over the notes and remember how the music used to make him feel. But the successful applicant for the job, a young woman called Maggie, has some troubling half-remembered memories of her own, and a secret reason for wanting to come to Earl House and find out more about Kenneth's family. While Kenneth's memory goes, Maggie starts to rediscover disturbing childhood memories - and writing down her own story rather than Kenneth's. At the same time, the unlikely couple are discovering an unexpected mutual attraction, which complicates the story even further. And it's only a matter of time before it all unravels...
Azzopardi writes wonderfully in some ways, and the sense of memory and intimacy is beautifully drawn. The flashbacks to Maggie's childhood were the most engaging parts, for me. Yet the way the writing delivers on the plot is a grave disappointment, and I was disappointed with how the story was told. Much of the first half of the novel is spent skirting around a disturbing secret - the secret that links Kenneth and Maggie's lives. When the actual secret is revealed, having lurked like a tantalising half-seen ghost for much of the novel, it's disappointingly dull and hard to believe. It was just not credible, and not told in a way that was at all believable.
I also felt it was a shame that the delicately nuanced intimacy between Kenneth and Maggie was not followed through to any sort of conclusion and I couldn't help feeling that this aspect of the story hadn't been wrapped up at all but was left hanging (fine sometimes but in this case I found it very frustrating). So for me this novel really did not fulfil its initial promise, and I finished it feeling rather disappointed.