As good as ever,
This review is from: She Shall Have Music (Hardcover)
For a long time I have believed that adults should never be ashamed to read children's books even when there is no child around to share the pleasure. "She Shall Have Music" was one of those books that I borrowed many times from the library when I was in my early teens and also one I remember not only for the pleasure it gave but also for certain incidents and themes. I was therefore delighted to come across a second hand copy recently, and even more delighted to find that it was just as pleasurable to read as I remembered. Now I realise that this relatively simple story showed features of growing up which, up to that point in my life, I had never come across in fiction before.
Karen the central figure is a musical child in a very unmusical family. The story charts the determination with which she follows her inner urgings to play the piano; not easy in a home where there is no such instrument. She is lucky to find one she can use wherever she goes, but it is her perseverence which leads to her final triumph. Of course the book is written in the late 1930s when there were many more pianos around but Karen's persistence is a great role model for everyone. Her constancy is all the greater because she has a terrible set-back when she leasts expects it. A neurotic adult who has been teaching her in the most deplorable way enters her for a festival confident that Karen will win her class. Instead the adjudicator awards her no points for her poor technique and silly affectations. Such a disappointment would have made many in a similar situation give up altogether, especially as a new teacher makes her go right back to basics, but Karen battles on.
Though set in a typical middle class family of the time, the trials and tribulations of being the youngest in a family of very strong characters is realistic. There are also a number of funny episodes; I especially enjoyed the time when, staying at the seaside, Karen's only way to play a piano is to accompany a small pierot show. Though I am not a very musical person, the ways in which Kitty Barne explains the technical and aesthetic aspects of music are helpful. I see that she also produced various books aboutmusical appreciation and am hoping to try one of these before long.