Sunday, May 24, 2009
TSS - Review - Sonata for Miriam by Linda Olsson
Sonata for Miriam by Linda Olsson
purchase from Amazon or Powell's
Synopsis from publisher:
A haunting novel of loss, love, and human connection from the author of Astrid & Veronika.
In Sonata for Miriam, two events occur that will change composer Adam Anker's life forever. Embarking on a journey that ranges from New Zealand to Poland, and then Sweden, Anker not only uncovers his parents' true fate during World War II, but he also finally faces the consequences of an impossible choice he was forced to make twenty years before — a choice that changed the trajectory of his life.
At the outset I have to say that I don't think this book will appeal to every reader. It is not an easy read - sometimes ambiguous, dreamlike, poetic. Several events are awfully convenient - and some events are really not explained that well, or at all, leaving the reader wondering what actually just happened.
That being said, I found myself really enjoying this novel. I was grabbed by Adam's voice from the opening sentences, and fell into the rhythm of the narration. I found the dueling narratives - Adam's search for the truth about his family, and his journey back to Cecilia - equally interesting, and while I didn't always understand concretely what was going on, it seemed to fit the mood of the novel. I think memories are often like that - not necessarily detailed or specific, but rather an impression of a person or place that stays with you. That's the way this book felt, and it worked for me.
Of course, the beautiful prose was a joy to read. I wanted to keep reading to see what happened next, but also just to read the words that Olsson wrote. Here are a couple of examples:
"I can take one individual note out of the music I am trying to write at the moment, and it could belong anywhere. Yet where it sits, where I have placed it, it follows what came before and leads to what comes after. Without it the whole would not be as it is...When you listen to the finished composition, or when you go about living your life, the individual components join to make a whole that can so easily be taken for granted. But it is not until you become aware of the parts that you can begin to understand the miracle."
"Smells and sounds and tastes are known to have the power to evoke memories. But I had never before understood the enormous power of tangible objects in this respect. I looked at the clip on my palm, and memories poured forth with almost unbearable intensity. Almost unbearable. No. Either things are bearable or they are not. There is no almost. And these memories were certainly bearable. I welcomed them. I reveled in their blinding intensity, the smarting pain of the sweet moments as they flooded back."
"I never knew how to tell you. If I had found the words, perhaps everything might have turned out different. But now, when so unexpectedly and so very undeservedly I have been given this opportunity, I will try to explain. No, that is not the word. There are no explanations. But I will try to talk. Try to break the silence. When you come, I will try to find the words."
Sonata for Miriam is a moody, beautiful novel, and the right reader will find it an unforgettable experience.
Source: Penguin books
Don't just take my word for it! Here's what some other fabulous bloggers had to say:
Marie at The Boston Bibliophile
Lisa at Books on the Brain
Swapna at S. Krishna's Books