The Music Lesson

Katharine Weber, Author Crown Publishers $21 (192p) ISBN 978-0-609-60317-8
After her very promising debut with Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear (1995), Weber offers a complete, but equally delightful, change of pace in this emotionally involving thriller that is propelled by psychological intensity. New York art historian Patricia Dolan is so swept away by the distant Irish cousin, Michael O'Driscoll, who seeks her out for her expertise but quickly becomes her lover, that in no time she is living in a remote cottage on the west coast of Ireland and is part of an IRA-inspired plot to kidnap a Vermeer painting (titled The Music Lesson) from the British royal collection and hold it for ransom. Patricia, alone in a wet winter with no company but the cherished Vermeer, keeps a journal that is the basis of the novel. She is by turns sprightly and funny about her Irish neighbors, reflective on the nature of art and of Vermeer's supreme genius, ecstatic about the sexual awakening Michael has given her and anxious about the odd position in which she finds herself. Is she being watched? Did her old neighbor lady see the picture by accident? Where is Michael? The situation is eventually resolved with brutal suddenness, and though it is difficult to see how else Weber could have ended the book, the final paragraph seems rather facile after all the warm and civilized writing, and the convincing creation of a winsomely offbeat heroine, that precedes it. But Weber remains a writer to be cherished, with the added, and quite rare, virtue of never writing a word too much. Regional author tour. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/30/1998
Release date: 12/01/1998
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FORMATS
Paperback - 178 pages - 978-0-312-25285-4
Hardcover - 161 pages - 978-0-7538-0943-3
Paperback - 182 pages - 978-0-307-71806-8
Open Ebook - 192 pages - 978-0-307-71807-5
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-00751-2
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