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An Equal Music Paperback – 7 Oct 2004

3.9 out of 5 stars 133 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; New Ed edition (7 Oct. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753807734
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753807736
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 75,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Michael plays second violin in an up-and-coming Maggiore Quartet, lives on the north side of Hyde Park, takes early morning dips in the Serpentine, has a French girlfriend named Virginie. But his mind is constantly drawn to his first and only love, Julia, whom he knew in Vienna many years earlier. When he catches sight of Julia on a London bus, he cannot help but pursue her. Vikram Seth's new novel is a gently-paced, multi-layered work, proceeding in short sections which flit from Michael's ongoing search for Julia back to his childhood as a Rochdale butcher's son, his early training and breakdown in Vienna under the tyrannical Carl Kall, and the emotional history of his quartet; while Michael's discovery of a Beethoven trio rewritten as a string quintet acts as a motif for Michael's pursuit of the lost Julia: can Michael recapture the magic of the past, like Beethoven, who deafly transfigured what he so many years earlier had hearingly composed? Seth is quite brilliant at conveying the intense and complex interplay of chamber musicians, in rehearsal and performance (an odd, obsessed, introspective, separatist breed), and manages the near-impossible--to write in 1999 about Art and Love without embarrassment. --Alan Stewart --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Vikram Seth's accomplishment in bringing not only these characters so fully to life, but the rich ambience of the music as well--so difficult to render in words--is something of a miracle."--Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha Praise for A Suitable Boy: "Surrender to this strange, beguiling world and be swept away on the wings of story. . . . It is difficult to imagine that many contemporary writers could give us a novel that provides so much deep satisfaction."--Washington Post Book World

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I found this book to be utterly engrossing, the central Love story which winds from Rochdale to Vienna and Venice via London, is beautifully accompanied by the music of the Maggiorre Quartet of which the protagonist is a member. This might not sound like it is to everyone's taste, (my girlfriend questionned my sanity after I recommended it to her), yet I am totally ignorant of classical music, have never visited the geographic settings and I found the story deeply involving. Without wanting to give too much away the story revolves around a passionate relationship which ended 10 years previously in Vienna, and recommences again fitfully in London with dramatic repercussions to both people's lives. My enjoyment of this book, and my girlfriend's dislike of it centres around the central character, and whether you will allow a grown man such a lapse into love and obsession after an affair he left behind so long ago. I was convinced, and thus found it spellbinding, more so than Seth's more celebrated work; 'A Suitable Boy'
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Format: Paperback
The basic plot of this novel by Vikram Seth is simple: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl again but with this simple story the author has constructed (perhaps composed would be a more apt word in this case!;-)) a most exquisite and beautiful novel. Mr. Seth obviously loves language and here he uses it to express himself and the emotions of his characters in a poetic and intelligent, meaningful and alluring manner. The images he builds are very powerful and moving and I found myself quickly drawn into this book so much so that I suspended my daily routine just to be able to finish this book! I found myself reading through the night to finish it. The characters Mr. Seth has created are very realistic, vivid and interesting people and ones which you empathise with. The main lead character Michael is beautifully developed as the novel progresses so that one feels his excitement when he meets Julia and his pain when things dont go his way. Julia too is an interesting character, beautiful, talented yet devastatingly handicapped and unsure as well. The secondary characters in this book also add considerably to the novel's depth.
As in his work, A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth is at his best when describing scenes and here again his vivid and colourful images of Vienna, London, and Venice are superbly crafted masterpieces of descriptive writing. Of course music plays a major role in this book both in its plot and its aestethic appeal and the book is full choc-a-bloc of descriptions of various pieces of classical music especially the Trout Quintent of Bach and also The Art of Fugue and of the perils and joys of playing the violin and the viola.
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By A Customer on 3 Dec. 2005
Format: Paperback
This book made me pick up my violin for the first time in 15 years! I loved every page. This is a book about love, but the real love affair is the one with music. The complicated and awkward lives of the musicians seemed to me to be fairly accurate. I sympathised with Michael, the main character, but didn't particularly warm to the way he behaves. However, I think this is the point of the book. It is the music which remains true and faithful in Michael's life, and he remains true to music, however thoughtless, selfish and self-absorbed he might be in other aspects of his life.
Seth is able to evoke the feelings that music can inspire, and has a good understanding of his subject. I like the fact that the main composers he writes about are Beethoven, Schubert and Bach, and he celebrates their gifts to the world. It would have been all to easy to go for more contemporary music in an effort to impress, but to my mind these are still the greats. In an age when classical music is often seen to be pretentious, and the visual image is everything, this is a breath of fresh air.
The settings in London, Venice, Vienna and Manchester were perfect for me, as an adopted Mancunian from London!
On a slightly different note, one of the really appealing aspects of the book is the way it is set out in very short chapters of only two or three pages. Perfect for busy mums trying to grab a few minutes here or there. In fact I read far more quickly, thinking 'I'll just read one more chapter', and still being totally absorbed an hour later - dinner was a bit late, though!
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Format: Paperback
... explains Vikram Seth in the "Author's note" to this engrossing novel. His intimate connection to music and the process of bringing it to life is palpable throughout the book. The story closely follows the ups and downs in the life of violinist Michael Holme and, to a lesser degree, that of the mysterious pianist Julia McNicholl. What makes the story move far beyond a romantic novel is Seth's ability to convey the deep significance of chamber music by no lesser composers than Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Schubert for his characters' psyche and everyday lives. You don't have to be knowledgeable about the music to feel absorbed by this rich, complex and intimate love story. *)

The story, told through Michael's eyes, is mostly set in north London, where he has found refuge after fleeing Vienna, the town of his professional training. Ten years have passed but his musings keep returning to events in Vienna: self-doubts in his talent as a soloist, amplified by the demands of an exacting, overbearing teacher, had resulted in a complete breakdown. His abrupt departure left Julia, his love, music partner and muse, without a word of explanation or good bye. As he slowly recovered, he tried to reconnect with her, wrote, contacted her father, only to meet a wall of silence. Seth's depiction of Michael's continuing emotional immaturity, his increasing despair at having lost what he now recognizes as his great love reveals the fragility of a character where musical brilliance and human weaknesses are interdependent. His solo career seemingly over, Michael joins the Maggiore Quartet as second violin. While in many ways a close knit group - the "family" gives his life the needed structure and support - it also is the source of inter-personal rivalries.
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