Sunday, June 13, 2010

Review: The Music Lesson

This novel tells the story of Patricia Dolan, a middle-aged art historian who finds herself in the midst of a mid-life crisis of epic proportions. The book opens with Dolan in the midst of a large-scale art heist, which removed a Vermeer from the clutches of none less than Buckingham Palace. Dolan is holed up in a cottage in a tiny, remote Irish village with the stolen painting. How an American art history professor came to find herself in this situation comprises the first three-quarters of the book. The rest brings the heist to its dramatic and suspense-filled conclusion. At the outset of the book Patricia Dolan finds herself stalled in her career, divorced, and grieving the death of her daughter. She finds solace in a long-lost, decades younger cousin who tumbles into her life and becomes the other half of Dolan's torrid love affair. It's the fling with this Irish cousin who launches Dolan into an Irish Liberation plot to steal a British-owned Vermeer. I found this book undeniably slow to get going. The details of Patricia's relationship with her cousin Mickey were not especially interesting. What was interesting was how an unassuming professor came to find herself in the midst of an international art heist. For as exciting as this book should have been, it simply was not. The characters were not especially well-developed, and were not always believable. The most interesting entity in this book is the painting, The Music Lesson. Perhaps this is intentional. The best-expressed emotion in this book is Patricia's love for the painting. The final, dramatic ending is the highlight of the book. Getting there, however, is slow going.

Katharine Weber, The Music Lesson (Crown, 1998) ISBN:

1 comment:

Hannah Stoneham said...

It is a shame that you found this one rather slow going - I usually love stories about art intriegues!