Wednesday, September 14, 2016

On Different Strings by Nitay Arbel

On Different Strings: A Musical Romance

Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform ()
ISBN-13: 978-1534785434
Kindle: 591 KB
Publisher: One Music As Before Press (June 7, 2016)
Complimentary review copy
Available on Amazon

Genre-busting love story

On Different Strings is a book that is hard to pigeon-hole. It is love story that challenges preconceptions and leaves the reader questioning common wisdom. It is also a bit of a suspense thriller. And there is an element of Kafka.

The basic set-up is that Amy is a young, poor college student who happens to be a talented musician, so she manages to get a gig as TA in the Music Department. Ian is a tenured Engineering professor who wants to learn to play guitar. He goes to a class that she teaches and they slowly, against their better judgement, fall in love. Which of course, blows up in their faces.

I liked how this book shows, pretty accurately I would guess, what it's like to live within academia and its rules. It's a different type of setting than I'm used to. I also like the ethical questions the characters struggle with, and the twists in the plot. The author is also obviously very familiar with music, and writes about it with confidence and an obvious mastery. Musically inclined readers will appreciate that.

No book is without flaws. I thought the characters were a bit too talky, which I suppose is spot-on for academic types, but I ended up skipping over some of the dialogue because of it. I feel it dragged down the pace of the first third of the book. The pace picks up when things get complicated for the couple and I think the author does a better job with handling suspense. In fact I bet the writer could do very well writing a straight thriller or suspense novel.

If you read On Different Strings, I'd be interested to hear your take on the Amy/Ian relationships. I still haven't decided if I really approve of it or how they handled it, hypothetically. (In real life it would be none of my beeswax, but this is fiction.) The fact that I want to talk about this suggests to me that this would be a good pick for a book club read.

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