I learned some historical details that I found interesting. The writing was disappointing.
I started reading this book because I thought that the subject matter may be interesting. I found the book to be superficial and for the most part irrelevant. There was really nothing to the story and the ending was extremely weak. I would have appreciated a lot more detail about Bach's life and also about Mendelssohn. The most interesting part of the book was Sara's story but again there was very little real substance to the storyline. The anti-semitism in 19th century Germany was a lot more serious than was portrayed. Lea would never have baptized her children had there not been a lot more to it than was portrayed in the book. There also wasn't a real conclusion to Susanna's family history either. All she did was a little search with her computer if she really wanted to find out about her family she could have approached all sorts of databases to find out what had happened to her family so even that aspect of the novel was left incomplete. Overall I found the book very disappointing.
To my mind the book was less about music and more about the tensions between the early Lutherans, their modern descendants and Jews. Whilst I was aware of some of the anti-Jew prose in the St John Passion I was not aware that such sentiments were to be found in the cantatas. I found the descriptions of Jews in Prussia, having to protect themselves by conversion, disturbing. Modern parallels spring to mind.....
the previous comment states that a reader interested in romantic German composers would like this book. Bach was not a "romantic composer", although I concede he was German. The novel is well written and well plotted, in my opinion, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys good, serious writing.
While this text has an interesting and unique premise, the plot is a little disorganized and confused. At times, the author seems to forgo the plot in order to overly detail the music. I felt more interesting details were overlooked or ignored. I would recommend this text if you are interested in romantic German composers.
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