Quick Book Review: An Equal Music by Vikram Seth
March 10, 2012 18 Comments
This book was the book of the month in February at the Dutch online book group boekgrrls. I read this about 5 years ago and remember enjoying it, although I only had a vague memory of what it was about. So, I read it again.
The protagonist, Michael Holme, is a violinist in a quartet. He lives in London but grew up in the North of England. He is at a dead end in his life: he’s in his late thirties, not married, just about making enough money in music, and still yearning for Julia who he had a relationship with 10 years ago. Through his own fault, they stopped seeing each other and he has regretted it ever since. He has tried to re-establish contact but wasn’t able to track her down.
But then she tracks him down. She’s now married and has a son, and she isn’t half as obsessed with him as he is with her, but they start an affair anyway. One that makes her feel guilty, and him unsatisfied, as it’s never enough. He always wants to meet her more often but she is in control of when they meet.
The whole story is told from the perspective of Michael. He was not a particularly nice person, he didn’t do anything interesting and I found him much, much too obsessed with Julia. But the description about the music he plays and the way the quartet deal with each other is told so well, that it turns from something that I don’t care about much into something that made for an absorbing read.
Vikram Seth shows an incredible knowledge of and love for classical music. Music is an important part of the book, more than the average reader may like, but because of the fantastic way it is written, I never got bored.
I loved reading this book, and my only complaint was Michael: I found him too obsessed with Julia. I wanted to shout: “Get over it, Michael, it’s been 10 years! Get a life!”. But he was stuck in this unsatisfactory life, both privately and professionally.