FTC Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher
A priceless violin. A family torn apart.
A decision that could change everything.
Berlin, 1939. Fourteen-year-old Simon Horowitz is awash in a world of music. But all is lost when the Nazis march across Europe, the Horowitz family’s possessions are confiscated, and Simon and his father and brother are sent to Dachau. Amid unimaginable cruelty and death, Simon finds kindness from an unexpected corner, and a chance to pick up a violin in exchange for a chance to live.
In the present day, orchestra conductor Rafael Gomez has seen much in his time on the world’s stage, but he finds himself oddly inspired by the playing of an aspiring violin virtuoso, a fantastic talent who is just fourteen. When the boy, Daniel Horowitz, Simon’s grandson, suddenly rebels and refuses to play another note, Rafael decides he’ll do anything he can to change that. After Rafael learns the boy’s family once owned a precious violin, believed to have been lost forever, he thinks he might know how to get Daniel playing again. In taking on the task he discovers a family story like no other, one that winds from World War II and Communist Russia all the way to Rafael’s very own stage.
I am a huge historical fiction fan, and it is because of this I asked to read this book. I wanted to see how the historical aspect is integrated and used to move and add power to the story. I wish there were more of it. Not that I didn’t like the contemporary aspect, but my history buff side wouldn’t always just sit back and enjoy the read.
The other aspect of the book that challenged me were the characters. I liked them all, even hated the ones I’m supposed to hate, however I never felt an intense connection with them as much as I thought I should. Usually if the characters don’t draw me in, the story does. Here, neither overpowered the other. It was a comfortable read, with no extreme highs or lows, which is why I recommend it for those looking to sit back, relax, and let the author tell a story easily read over a weekend.
Music has an important part to play in this story and in a way, it is a character all its own. It affects the people and their story – even history itself.
There is little violence, sex, or harsh language, although the recollections of surviving in a concentration camp can evoke some strong emotions. This is a great book to get for a friend, family member, and an good pick for a book club.
Hence why I wanted a little bit more when it came to the historical sections. I must say though, these sections are well researched and therefore fictionalized in an impactful way.