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Brooklyn lawyer finds herself sharing mind and body with Franz Schubert, in this high-concept first novel already in film development (think Freaky Friday gone symphonic).

Thirty-one-year-old Liza Durbin is walking through Nordstrom while visiting her folks in California when she finds herself brilliantly playing Schubert on the store piano. Newly talented and with heightened senses in general, she gradually accepts that somehow Franz Schubert has entered her body. After a few episodes of peculiar behavior (when Franz takes over, she’s a little out of control), she takes a leave from her law firm to play piano under the guidance of a teacher from Juilliard who has mysteriously learned of Liza’s situation. Liza prepares for her Carnegie Hall debut at her platonic but heterosexual male best friend Fred’s apartment. Her rich sister Cassie promotes her into a media darling. Her boyfriend Patrick returns from an extended visit to Milan—where Liza fears he’s been unfaithful—and proves wonderfully sympathetic. Nevertheless, Liza allows herself a dangerous flirtation with a caddish composer who wants her to play his composition as her encore at Carnegie Hall. The concert is successful but controversial when she encores with a new Schubert piece instead. Eventually, the fact that Schubert is “within” her not only becomes public but is generally accepted. Patrick returns to Milan; she longs for him occasionally, but she’s awfully busy. Experiencing life through the filter of Franz’s genius, Liza loses weight, becomes glamorous as well as talented and wildly popular while remaining unaffected and lovable. On her European tour, Liza, guided by Franz, finds the conclusion to his unfinished symphony. Once the symphony is performed by an eclectic A-list orchestra (Yo-Yo Ma, Wynton Marsalis) under Liza’s direction, Franz disappears into the ether, leaving Liza enriched and the world musically rejuvenated.

Hits all the obvious notes while skirting the difficult passages, but should make a fun movie.

Pub Date: June 29th, 2004
ISBN: 1-4000-6041-9
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2004


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