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[books pdf] An Equal MusicAuthor Vikram Seth –

The Author Of The International Bestseller A Suitable Boy Returns With A Powerful And Deeply Romantic Tale Of Two Gifted Musicians Michael Holme Is A Violinist, A Member Of The Successful Maggiore Quartet He Has Long Been Haunted, Though, By Memories Of The Pianist He Loved And Left Ten Years Earlier, Julia McNicholl Now Julia, Married And The Mother Of A Small Child, Unexpectedly Reenters His Life And The Romance Flares Up Once Against The Magical Backdrop Of Venice And Vienna, The Two Lovers Confront The Truth About Themselves And Their Love, About The Music That Both Unites And Divides Them, And About A Devastating Secret That Julia Must Finally Reveal With Poetic, Evocative Writing And A Brilliant Portrait Of The International Music Scene, An Equal Music Confirms Vikram Seth As One Of The World S Finest And Most Enticing Writers

10 thoughts on “An Equal Music

  1. says:

    An Equal Music is indeed a musical story The language is immensely beautiful Throughout the book, one sees how much time human beings spend tuning things so that they can live in harmony In this story, the characters struggle with notes, compositions, and life Both music and life demand the same things, it is only in certain moments the right notes of joy, bliss, and happiness are struck The central character in the story, not only in the practice sessions but in real life too, searches for an equal music While Seth dedicates the book through a beautifully worded poem to his intimate friend Philippe Honore In addition to this, the book opens with the following luminous lines of John Donne And into that gate they shall enter, and in that house they shall dwell, where there shall be no cloud, nor sun, no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light, no noise nor silence, but one equal music, no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession, no foes nor friends, but one equal communion and identity, no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity These lines, in some very significant ways, clarify Us to ourselves All of us, knowingly or unknowingly, strive to attain that space of one equal eternity For some, such quests are even daunting The story of Michael, at least in the beginning, reads like the story of a homosexual man In the first thirty pages, he is seen playing, practicing music, talking to friends, but his real love Julia appears much later He sees her through his window seat With his current girlfriend, Michael is hardly at ease and the one he truly loves is nowhere in sight So what he really has is himself his walks, his music, his books, his thoughts, these are the things that actually sustain him In a way, this acute loneliness and search for balance run throughout the novel There are small instances in the book that mirrors experiences central to gay lives For instance, once while walking, Michael feels that someone is walking behind him He describes it thus the anonymous person seemed to have made up his mind and walked with renewed energy and overtook Michael indicating lack of interest In yet another instance, Michael talks randomly with a man on one wintry evening The whole scene reads as if he were cruising One man is seen taking a dip in icy water, the other, being lonely, wandering for no particular reason Both searching for something Anybody who likes western classical music would love reading this book Even though I am not particularly familiar with it, I loved how seamlessly the story is entwined with the language of music.However, the quest for home and love is eternal One can live bliss in moments, one can glimpse it many times, but one cannot inhabit it fully and forever This quest is difficult when the world around is hostile A world that still tries to stifle certain kinds of love In such a hostile setting, the search for the unspeakable love is exhausting The book ends on a hopeful note, justifying the title and the story There is no reason to despair Music, such music is a sufficient gift Why ask for happiness why hope not to grieve It is enough, it is to be blessed enough, to live from day to day and to hear such music not too much, or the soul could not sustain it from time to time.

  2. says:

    It s the weirdest thing, a quartet I don t know what to compare it to A marriage a firm a platoon under fire a self regarding, self destructive priesthood It has so many different tensions mixed in with its pleasures. I was absolutely enthralled with Seth s two novels The Golden Gate and A Suitable Boy and so I couldn t wait to start reading this book But it turned out to have an odd effect on me as I alternatively loved and hated it I couldn t understand this at all I put the book down for a day and started again but still this dichotomy of loving hating the book remained But why This was beyond my comprehension as I really admire this author An Equal Music came highly recommended to me Everyone seemed to love it and the subject matter was brilliant in that it was based around the famous Maggiore Quartet comprising Michael one of the two main individuals in the book , Piers and Helen, brother and sister, and Billy.Apart from my passion for reading, photography and gardening, I m enthralled with classical music and this book promised me so much in that regard.The book on the whole is lyrical and there are indeed some mesmerizing passages but I feel that it really doesn t have any soul Michael and Julia, a pianist, had met ten years previously and he had never forgotten her One day he s on a London bus and sees Julia on a bus travelling in the opposite direction This was magnificent to read and the travels to Vienna and Venice are quite magical but I found myself becoming and incensed with the relationship of our two protagonists, which appeared to be so contrived And the great secret Well words fail me here Try to imagine a married woman with a young child, who is recommencing an affair with Michael who in turn then suddenly discovers something quite untoward In addition, Michael to me lacked passion, true passion I think that really the only thing he ever loved apart from his music was his violin, the Tononi which in turn led him a merry dance He had been loaned it many years before by an elderly neighbour, Mrs Formby and always lived in constant fear that she would insist upon its return for one reason or another The prose throughout the book, nevertheless, is exquisite regarding this instrument The doorbell rings It is the registered letter from Rochdale Shall I play you and then give you up Shall I give you up unplayed, so that the memory of our parting is not marred with sounds so that Bach is not joined by other losses Mozart, Schubert, all that gives me life What would I play if not that, what would I play if not here Tea for Two chez Tricia The dog food for my old, tired teacher The untrembling scale with my estranged friends The Lark Ascending in honour of a dispersed spirit The gift however that Julia finally gave him was musical he had always been so moved by her playing Music, such music, is a sufficient gift Why ask for happiness why hope not to grieve It is enough, it is to be blessed enough, to live from day to day and to hear such music not too much, or the soul could not sustain it from time to time.I feel so sad that I did not find this book all embracing There s nothing worse that disappointment in an author who normally has me entranced However, another book Another time.

  3. says:

    Your words have given me life and taken sleep away The park gates open at first light Slate grey and coral, dawn is reflected in the pool The flowers have been turfed under in the sunken garden The chack of a squirrel, the splash of a small duck, a blackbird hopping about beneath the thinned out linden hedge this is all I am alone with this troubled joy That beautiful, gray day when I found you, Equal Music, a parallel to those drops of hard rain on windowpanes Go to the used bookstore where it is so dirty you smell the cat s litter when you enter, but never mind, for you have a cup of strong coffee to sip, books to browse, the sound of rain making music on glass, and oh yes, a book that has music in the title, music in the soul, and love to guide the narrative The choices we make in life affect our journey at each vital point Maybe at some point we breathe a sigh of relief, maybe we take only a moment of retrospective remorseful silence, or worse, we live each day regretting the ones we loved and lost Is love enough, these characters and musicians must figure out The Quartet is the core of love, the music they play, life s pulse each note delves into innermost feelings The musician lives for the music The violinist and pianist reunite and suddenly everything seems warm, depression gives way to heartfelt music, flowers bud warm, bright colors, grappa goes down warm, an agent lands them a great deal and all is well with the world Or is it I put my hand on my shoulder where your head rested Then I say your name once, twice, a third time, a fourth Some nights I sleep like that, remembering you some nights I only sleep as dawn comes on When a poet pens prose he adds beats and descriptive words soar Transcendence The broken heart beats The violinist tunes to F and there goes a lower, deeper beat Bach, the sound of pain and pizzazz elucidated through notes Lyrics on the page, a narrative flow that soothes Michael and Julia Love, the sound of two heartbeats Gondolas, the pulse of a city on water The cello, melancholic yet pure, like the beat of raindrops on fallen leaves Vivaldi, your Baroque makes my heart beat.

  4. says:

    Seeing this much lauded novel on one of my bookshelves yesterday reminded me to post a review.I read this several years ago, when it was being f ted by culturati luvvies the world over A masterpiece as clear, lovely and civilised as a Schubert quartet Daily Mail Seth follows the heart s changes as rigorously as if they were the interweaving lines of a Bach score, and, at its frequent best, his prose, as he intends, is as clear, lovely, inexorable, as a fugue Evening StandardI, on the other hand, found it self conscious, pretentious and bland.The writing, though beautifully lyrical, cannot hide the fact that the book is big on the technicalities of classical music, but low on thrills.This isn t helped by a central love story that is altogether shallow and emotionless, and which didn t engage me one bit.5 5 for Seth s superb writing 2 5 for the substance.

  5. says:

    I have never gone as low and as fast in my opinion of a book as with An Equal Music After the first 25 pages, I felt that I d stumbled on to something incredible no doubt helped by the very simple writing, which was a refreshing change from Salman Rushdie s tediousness but after a 100 pages it became clear that it was incredible, just the wrong type incredibly bad.The story is about a violinist who is reunited with his lost love after 10 years She has re married and has a child, yet sees nothing wrong in getting involved with him again, with remarkably little wooing from him They have fun for a while and then she leaves him again I know I make it sound crass, but that really is the story There s a lot of musical stuff involved, as both of them are musicians, but that is incidental to the story.For a book that presumes to talk about emotions and sensibilities, it is remarkably devoid of sentiment and feeling That s the first problem The other problem with this book, an ostentatiously realistic novel, is that it is not grounded in reality There is no semblance of consistency, logic, even common sense to either the story, the narrative, or the characters The narrative progresses at such a slow pace that even a snail would get tired following it There s no thread of consistency or even a shred of believability about the protagonists actions Its as if they don t think at all and all their actions and words are based on whims The lead character is so contradictory that one gets the feeling that 4 or 5 diametrically opposite personalities have been squeezed into one All this is very bad What pushes it to infuriatingly bad, is that the two protagonists living in a very real world with very real problems, are so far removed from reality It is hard to feel anything but contempt and strong loathing for them As if that weren t bad enough, these inconsistent characters show an appalling lack of moral strength as well.And the last straw The writing becomes and pretentious as the story progresses As if, at the beginning the writer wasn t sure about his abilities and as the book became longer he realized that he has suddenly become a good writer To paraphrase a very apt quote Its not the quantity of pages written, but the quality on the pages, that makes a good writer.The praise for this book was led by the Daily Telegraph The finest novel about music ever written in English I will counter that verdict with mine A most infuriating book with the worst conceived and realized characters that I ve ever come across in any book.

  6. says:

    As you take your seat and the room becomes hushed with anticipation your eyes are on the performer Not any performer but the one in the quartet you came to hear He plays second violin Few people like to play second seat You don t get do play all those fancy solos He loves his violin It s been with him in a tender devoted relationship longer than most people His fingers move upon his instrument in fluid motion that holds your attention, hypnotizing you until your eyes meet his You look down and see his foot, barely perceptible, tapping out the beat Then your eyes move upwards again and you see his smile He is smiling at you, in welcome and acknowledgement Do you know him Is he an old friend, a school companion, or the man you once loved Does he recognize you Why else would he be smiling like that unless he knew you The two, once upon a time lovers in this story, do know each other It s been years since they ve been together They meet after the concert unsure what to say, how to behave She looks different Her hair is longer Her face thinner She is still beautiful to him As beautiful and familiar as his beloved violin They remind each other, without words, of the past What now do they want of each other It must be something to smile at each other like that They slowly tune each other s existence as it was meant to be heard, rising up from the wells at the very core of their beings But, like Kurt Cobain s song, somethings in the way.In the present things are difficult Like his loaned violin they could disappear from each other without a trace This is a moving story of two musicians who love to make music and love There is always a constant threat of potential loss which maintains the book s melancholy and minor key It s all experience They feel it They make music from it They move forward together and alone, but joined forever by their music.

  7. says:

    I was surprised by how much i loved this book It s blow off your travelling companions and curl up in your youth hostel until you finish it good It s finish it and then wish you hadn t so you could read it again for the first time good The tension in the love story is addictive But what I loved most was the way Seth writes about music the way he integrates music into the lives of the characters all professional musicians is than convincing, it s intoxicating.

  8. says:

    The smell of rosin on a bow, the satisfaction of slow scales played with a partner, the sleepy somnolence of working a piece through in your head just before sleep I miss these things I forget them too Vikram Seth lent them back to me this week I ve read An Equal Music before, quickly This read, with bed rest time to spin through, I read it page by page, at half tempo It was delicious Seth recreates the world of a violinist in a string quartet, bringing in the human element of chamber music, and, bravely, the music Music is frustratingly difficult to write about what seems glorious to experience becomes trite on a page, or simply does not show up But Seth does it well, mixing chewably real details with tone poem text to help you hear the music.

  9. says:

    There are things I loved about this book and things I did not love, but the bottom line is that after finishing it I sat for 15 minutes and just pondered it That s good I have read a few reviews stating a disdain for the narrator he s whinny, he s selfish, he s annoying Yes, those things are true enough But I like that Seth didn t make a heroic main character The fact is that a person going through a failed love affair generally tends to be those things Argue with that all you wish I feel that the resolution which I imagine some probably feel could have been clearer was that music was enough for him I like that I wish he had gone on for a few paragraphs at least , but perhaps the strength here is that it leaves the reader to continue pondering This may be a book geared for those who also share a deep love for music I m not sure how it would go over for anyone less invested in it But who knows Beautifully written, and it says just enough without giving away too much A lovely read.

  10. says:

    The bad rating isn t on this book it just wasn t the book for me I don t really understand the characters choices Again I m not satisfied with the endingIt s amazing how you can ruin your own life and make yourself miserable Michael s life is the kind of life I m scared of for myself.