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The Novel in the Viola Paperback – 12 May 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 104 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; First Edition edition (12 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340995696
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340995693
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 107,981 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'A deeply touching and blissfully romantic elegy for a lost world.' (The Times)

A vivid and poignant story about hope, loss and reinvention (Psychologies)

A warm story with a lovely uncloying sweetness. (Saga Magazine)

Solomons's confident timing means that we sense what is about to happen only moments before it occurs, and are compelled to read on, not as one might expect for the frisson of a new event, but for the thrill of having our intuition confirmed. (Stephanie Bishop, TLS)

For Mr Rosenblum's List:

'The descriptions of England - as friend, adversary and eventually home - are exquisite. A touching, surprising and satisfying read.'

(Sadie Jones, author of The Outcast)

'Utterly charming and very funny' (Paul Torday, author of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen)

'An unususal, comedy-rich novel... a treat of a book'. (Guardian)

'a subtle and moving examination of the dilemma faced by immigrants to modern Britain'. (Observer)

'Prepare to be seriously charmed'. (The Times)

'both a love story and an elegy to the English country house...the greatest pleasure is its stirring narrative and the constant sense of discovery within the historical sweep of Elise's life...Solomon's confident timing means that we sense what is about to happen only moments before it occurs, and are compelled to read on, not as one might expect for the frisson of a new event, but for the thrill of having our intuition confirmed.' (Stephanie Bishop, TLS)

'An engaging read ... ripe for the screen' (Guardian)

Book Description

A sweeping story of upstairs, downstairs, love and loss by the author of Mr Rosenblum's List.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I loved this book, from start to finish it gripped me. It starts off with Elise in her Austrian days, having a lovely time in the early thirties and then quickly debunks to her new setting in England where she is sent to escape the impending whirlwind against the Jews. I had only a vague notion before this that some young well to do girls were sent from Austria in this way, but Elise's experiences are so well described that these events becoming incredibly real. The descriptions of the London fog, the confusion of being in a new city, let alone a new country are brilliantly painted. This could have been a sad but worthy tale about the journey of one such girl from a charmed life with servants to becoming a servant herself; but these is nothing pitiful in Elise's story, just the facts and wonderful descriptions of how she deals with things - although it is a sad tale in many ways. She comes to love the English countryside as her own home, given time she finds love, loses it and finds a more enduring love as a consequence. What I especially liked was the way Elise could stand back at times and see her own life, the possibilities of what might have been, which are often changed in a second by some stroke of fortune, good or bad or a particular decision. I love the authors style of writing, intelligent, caring but never falling into mere sentiment. I have already ordered the book she wrote before this one and can't wait to start it; a wonderful author to have discovered.
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Format: Paperback
Rave reviews raised my hopes for this book but I was rather disappointed. The story is entirely predictable and I felt it was peopled with "stock characters" of the kind often found in tv dramas. The tone of the book is gently elegaic (the heroine loses not one but two lifestyles, firstly in pre war Vienna, and secondly among the English landed gentry) but given the bitterly tragic story of a girl losing her family to the holocaust I found the soft marshmallowy feel of the narrative to be inappropriate. I was speed reading it from about half way through; this reader was not gripped.
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Format: Paperback
The Novel in the Viola
I read this book on holiday & found it to be one of the best books I have ever read! It is beautifully written & I was totally consumed in the story, feeling the emotion of fear, loss & love. I almost felt I was in the story, which is of course fiction based on the truth. I have since visited Tyneham Village, as I am lucky to live not far away, & I could imagine the life as was in the 1940's. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have a real interest in this period and have read a number of novels and biographies exploring the same theme; that is, the experience of young Jewish people who find exile in England from the Nazi threat in Europe. To stand out, then, this would have to be good/special/different.
The first object is to establish the character in her old culture so we can understand how she copes with a dramatic change. The character does need to engage our sympathies, too. We meet Elise Landau in Vienna quite briefly, too briefly, and in that brief frame she definitely does not appeal. Her mother, a superdiva, is singing arias in the bath while a maid serves champagne; Elise and her sister look sadly at the space on the wall where the Renoir used to hang. Her father is a famous author, her brother -in -law is an astronomer in California. Ok, right.
The next stage is the transition - the journey from old culture to new, as we see the character coping or not coping. In this book Elise is in Vienna on one page and in London the next. No transition.
It is in the new culture that the author really loses the plot. In the first instance, Elise, known to us so far as a completely ineffectual spoilt brat, morphs overnight - literally overnight - into a mature young woman soldiering up for difficulties and trauma. How did that happen?
But there's worse. Does Elise or does she not speak and understand English? On one page she does not - her luggage annoys her landlady but she doesn't know why. She is afraid of walking outside her hotel in case she can't find her way back. The next day however she has managed to cross London - with luggage - catch a train south and recall every station the conductor announces from Waterloo to Weymouth.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved Natasha Solomons' first book 'Mr Rosenblum's List' and so I wanted to give this one a go. But while Mr Rosenblum could make you laugh and cry at the same time, an emotion few are able to invoke, and was even almost Orwellian in tone, 'The Novel in the Viola' was very bland in comparison. The story and the characters in the former were enchanting, charming and most importantly genuine - in no way contrived; but in the main, the characters in this novel were more often than not, artificial and thus, simply tiresome.

I like the author's uncomplicated style and the story itself was pleasing enough, though in some places I felt like she was merely filling pages, which was distracting. The story was also highly predictable - you could make a guess as to what was coming and 9 times out of 10, be right - not exactly making it a page turner then. There wasn't a great deal of tension and the ending was weak. Having said all this, overall it is an enjoyable enough read and worth taking time out to do so if period/romance novels are to your taste.
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