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Adult Fiction

This list includes fictional books about music targeted at an adult audience. The volumes are generally available at public libraries and through major booksellers.

Adam, Paul. The Rainaldi Quartet. New York: St. Martinís Press, 2004.
When Tomaso Rainaldi, a violin maker in Cremona, Italy (the home of fabled violin maker Antonio Stradivarius) is murdered, his devastated friends, police detective Guastafeste and luthier Gianni Castiglioni, discover that the dead man was obsessed with finding an immensely valuable violin called the Messiah's Sister which was built by Stradivarius but subsequently lost. The story unfolds as the two men take up the search themselves. With a surprising ending, The Rainaldi Quartet will especially appeal to mystery lovers and music lovers.

Carhart, Thad. The Piano Shop on the Left Bank. New York: Random House, 2001.
The piano shop on the Left Bank in Paris is owned by an eccentric elderly proprietor who deals only with people whom he knows. Thanks to an introduction by a friend, Carhart makes his acquaintance and is finally welcomed into the unique store crowded with pianos of all sorts. Soon, he is stopping by daily to talk about pianos and music with Luc. As Carhart's love of music is rekindled, he eventually he buys a piano— which is delivered in a most amazing manner—and starts taking lessons again.

Cather, Willa. Song of the Lark. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1915.
Thea Kronborg, born and raised in a small Colorado town, wants to be a musician. She starts first as a pianist, working first with a local teacher then moving to the city to study. She switches to singing, however, as her talent in this area is recognized. Cather writes a moving and beautiful tale of the personal and professional challenges this young woman faces as she tries to attain her dream.

Conroy, Frank. Body and Soul. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1993.
Claude Rawlings lives on Third Avenue in New York City. Trapped in an apartment all day while his mother drives a taxi, he discovers an old piano in his basement apartment and learns to play with the help of the owner of a local music shop. As Claude's incredible talent becomes apparent, he is helped in his career by some wonderful, caring people. He also faces great challenges in his pursuit of music.

Cowell, Stephanie. Marrying Mozart. New York: Viking, 2004.
This book is a fictional account of the lives of the Weber family, which is comprised of a musical father, a difficult mother and four daughters. Twenty-one-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart enters their lives and at first is deeply involved with Aloysia. After she goes off unexpectedly with someone else, he eventually, he marries Constanze. The author makes eighteenth century Europe come alive as she describes life in Mannheim and Vienna. Her tale of family life, love and music in the Weber household is charming and historically informative and her insight into the trials the young Mozart faces is fascinating.

Landis, James. Longing. New York: Harcourt, 2000.
This historical novel mixes fact with fiction as it relates the story of composer Robert Schumann and his wife, Clara Wieck, the most celebrated female musician of her day. Despite the disapproval of Clara's father, who is also Robert's teacher, the two musicians marry and go on to have highly successful careers and several children until Robert's illness changes their lives.

Mason, Daniel. The Piano Tuner. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002.
In 1886, Edgar Drake, a shy, retiring piano tuner, is asked to travel to a remote part of Burma to repair a rare piano belonging to an eccentric army officer. From this irresistible beginning, Drake enters a seductive world of love and political intrigue.

Patchett, Ann. Bel Canto. New York: Harper Collins, 2001.
Roxanne Goss, a famous soprano, didn't want to sing at the birthday party of Mr. Hosakawa, a powerful Japanese businessman, that was being held at the home of an ambassador in a small South American country. Nevertheless, it is a perfect evening and she gives a beautiful performance until a group of terrorists bursts in and takes the entire party hostage. However, what begins as a panicked, life-threatening situation slowly becomes something quite different, as terrorists and hostages become inextricably interlinked and old values and perceptions change dramatically.

Ross, Kate. The Devil in Music. New York: Viking, 1997.
Julian Kestrel, an English dandy, finds himself in Italy in 1825 investigating the four-year old murder of a powerful nobleman. This book has it all; a disappearing English tenor, a runaway wife and her male soprano lover, insights into the world of opera, political intrigue and murder. The descriptions of social life in this period are particularly appealing.

Salzman, Mark. The Soloist. New York: Random House, 1994.
When Reinhart Sundheimer, a world-renowned cellist, suddenly loses his ability to perform, he doesn't know what to do. This story describes how he comes to terms with his new life and mediocrity.

Slater, Harrison. NightMusic. New York: Harcourt, Inc., 2002.
When a struggling American musicologist, Matthew Pierce, comes across a mysterious document that could be a diary of Mozart's, he embarks on a search for the truth that leads him into some incredible and dangerous situations. This book is at once a travelogue through Europeís most famous cities, a fascinating mystery, a Mozart biography and a tale of intrigue within the world of gifted musicians and music scholars.

Tremain, Rose. Music and Silence. New York: Farrar Strauss and Giroux, 2000.
King Christian IV of Denmark is not a happy man. The year is 1629, and his country is falling apart, his wife is adulterous and he fears for his life. Fortunately, the royal orchestra that plays in a cellar below his chambers is always there to console him as is the group's lutenist, Peter Claire. Ms. Tremain has many interesting and insightful things to say about the power of music in this unusual book.

Vikram, Seth. An Equal Music. New York: Broadway Books, 1999.
Violinist Michael Holme has never forgotten Julia McNicholl, a pianist whom he knew in Vienna as a student. Years later, he meets her again by accident while riding a London bus. The two go on tour with a group of Michael's fellow musicians and try to recapture their lost love while performing amazing music.

 

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