Martin Simmond’s father tells him, “Never trust a musician when he speaks about love.” The advice comes too late. Martin already loves Dovidl Rapoport, an eerily gifted Polish violin prodigy whose parents left him in the Simmonds’s care before they perished in the Holocaust. For a time the two boys are closer than brothers. But on the day he is to make his official debut, Dovidl disappears. Only 40 years later does Martin get his first clue about what happened to him.
In this ravishing novel of music and suspense, Norman Lebrecht unravels the strands of love, envy and exploitation that knot geniuses to their admirers. In doing so he also evokes the fragile bubble of Jewish life in prewar London; the fearful carnival of the Blitz, and the gray new world that emerged from its ashes. Bristling with ideas, lambent with feeling, The Song of Names is a masterful work of the imagination.
like me. The story is the tale of the relationship of two unlikable characters. Both are Jewish--one a musical prodigy and one the son of a British promoter of music. The story begins right before the onset of WWII in England. I kept wanting to like the book and waiting for something redeeming. The best that I could come up with is that it was an interesting look at the lives of those who nurture a genius. The rewards seem to be few both for the genius and the people who surround him. Those who understand Jewish religious practices might find this book more understandable and rewarding because it provides interesting insights for the context and the setting.
5 of 9 people found this review helpful
I loved the reader. I thought he did a wonderful job narrating. It is obviously a beautiful and important story; I just couldn't ever really fall in love with the characters. They were all so self-involved, and not in an endearing way. But, a valuable existing within difficult times and the classic music industry. Even though I was never really able to *love* it; I recommend it.
I am not sure what to make of it of this book, seems to be a trend for me lately!
I enjoyed the story as it was unfolding, the characters were appealing and the plot was interesting… but once it was done, taking a step back and looking it as a whole, it disappointed me.
What was it? A brotherly love story? A holocaust memoir? A murder mystery? An investigation into a disappearance? In the end it was none of those so I just felt unfulfilled which leads me to think I probably missed the point.
At first I thought the narrator was a little too strident and rat-a-tat-tat, but it kind of worked for the story. His accents and different voices were extremely believable. I sometimes marveled at how good he was. (Except for the one mention of the Italian name Gianni.)
I had already read this book years ago and this recording added to what is already a brilliant novel. It is a fascinating story but especially appealing for those who like classical music but rarely find an author who can do it justice.