Life, Death and Cellos (The Stockwell Park Orchestra Series Book 1) Paperback – 24 Jan 2019
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About the Author
Isabel Rogers writes poetry and fiction, but never on the same day. She won the 2014 Cardiff International Poetry Competition, was Hampshire Poet Laureate 2016, and her debut collection, Don t Ask, came out in 2017 (Eyewear). Life, Death and Cellos is her first novel to be published.
She had a proper City job before a decade in the Scottish Highlands, writing and working in the NHS. She now lives in Hampshire, laughs a lot, and neglects her cello. She is on Twitter @Isabelwriter.
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This debut novel from Isabel Rogers really caught me by surprise. From the cover and the description, I was expecting a cosy crime fiction read. Which it is miles and miles away from. It is so very hard to label the genre of the book. It’s literary fiction mixed with women’s fiction with a hint of comedy and threaded through is a slither of crime. A pick n mix if you like of varying genres.
It is apparent that Ms Rogers has a love and expertise in music. There are quite a few parts of the book that is technical heavy. At first, I enjoyed reading a little bit of who was playing what and how but after a while it became a little heavy for me. I know the author is passionate and that’s apparent but as a reader, it was a little too much. What made the book a five star read for me personally was the characters, those chapters were the most exciting and engaging for me. Beautifully written with heart and I really would have loved much more about them and less about how the Orchestra plays etc.
As I read I started to listen to the music on my Alexa gadget that they were playing/practising in the book. It made for a lovely added extra to my reading experience. Plus I enjoyed discovering some gorgeous music to add to my background playlist.
The cover is beautiful and I really cannot wait to find out what happens to the characters in this series. Overall it was a really enjoyable and creative read. A massive five stars from me. This book was written with so much love it bursts from the pages.
Bravo Ms Rogers!
Because this book is everything but a mystery. I don't say it as something bad, it's merely a stating of a fact. And it wouldn't be a problem, even for me (a huge mystery fan) - but the initial concept clearly claimed that it was one, thus turning my expectations that way. Now, I get that this all happened before the publication, and it has been corrected by the time it comes out (now), which is absolutely alright, so I try to focus on which readers should read it, who might find it interesting - instead of criticizing the lacking mystery part.
To be honest, I'm not even sure how I would categorize this book. If I must say something, I'd say it's a contemporary general fiction... dealing with musicians. Or musician's lives. (BTW I totally get how hard it might make the marketing for this...) It's currently marked as 'humor', but I'm not sure that fits that well, either. There are humorous situations, and it's a light read, but I don't think that's the most characteristic attribute to the book. There's the so-called mystery of the stolen cello, but that only happens around the half, and doesn't really keep going more than a couple of chapters - and nobody seems to care who took it, it just gets found, and that's it. So, it's definitely not a mystery, either. The main character is a young woman, finding herself in the music and in the life of the orchestra, but there are many other, almost equally important characters of different ages and gender, and we get to see many of their POVs as well, so I neither can say it's women's fiction, nor new adult... It's so hard to grab and put in an exact category! I give up trying...
Anyways: the point is, this was an entertaining story about the life of an orchestra, though it was predictable, too. What I enjoyed the most, and I think the strength of this book is how their life, the life of amateur musicians and singers is described. It's very well described, in small, numerous details, which sometimes takes the reader's attention from the actual story - but I didn't mind this at all, because I honestly think this was the best about the book! It's very well captured, even the tiniest details, and - I say this from experience - so very accurate! So, dear reader, if you go through the pages of this book, know that every single thing about these orchestras and choirs are really happening this way. This is how it goes. I loved these descriptions!
I also liked the characters, though I feel like I would've liked to know a bit more about them. See a bit more. They were good enough to be interested in, but I didn't feel it was enough. Fortunately, this is only the first book of a series, so I really hope I get to know them in the sequel more! This is probably also the reason why some minor arcs in the book weren't closed by the end: the author was thinking in larger arcs, in a series, not in a standalone book. Regarding only this book, I must say that the members of the orchestra were just as spot on as the description about their life: the "types" of amateur musicians were all very well described and represented. Since there are many equally important characters, there weren't enough time for all of them to be wholly introduced and thus some of them didn't seem to have as much depth as others, but I think that can be okay if the sequel gives a bit more "screentime" for them. Erin was likable, I loved Ann, and I would be so up to see way more of Charlie!
I would recommend this book to people interested in music and in the everyday life and habits of amateur musicians. I think you'd be especially entertained with this one if you yourself are one! I found many observations funny and right on spot! This book is also a good choice if you'd like to just lightly read something that manages to keep your interest, but not making you feel so anxious and worked up so it just adds to your daily stress. It calmed and switched off my mind a bit.
Just for heaven's sake, don't expect it to be a mystery!