A violinist risks everything for the instrument—and man—of her dreams in U.K. author Kilroy’s dramatic American debut. Eva Tyne collapses the night of her first solo with the New Amsterdam Chamber Orchestra, setting in motion a chain of life-altering events. Instead of going home to her boyfriend, Kryštof, the young Irish expatriate checks out of the hospital early, bunks with her best friend, Valentina, and in quick succession meets two mysterious foreign men with enticing offers. Alexander, who claims to be Chechen, sells her a very rare, very expensive violin, which she names Magdalena. And Daniel, a wealthy Latin American banker, becomes both her financial investor and her lover. Finally happy and with a violin of unparalleled quality, Eva begins to get the international recognition she craves, and is invited to perform around the world. But as she becomes increasingly infatuated with both Magdalena and Daniel, she also grows paranoid about their backstories. She turns out to have good reason. An old Jewish woman comes forward, claiming that Magdalena, as valuable as Eva had hoped, had belonged to her grandfather and was stolen by the Nazis during the Holocaust. And though Daniel isn’t sleeping with Valentina, as Eva suspects, his intentions are undeniably dubious. The story builds with a lovely arc, culminating in an O. Henry–esque mishap that leaves both her violin and her relationship in jeopardy. Kilroy is particularly skilled at throwing her reader off course. Unfortunately, she does not apply the same careful touch to metaphor—her extended analogy linking Daniel and Magdalena tires quickly.
The novel’s flaws do not compromise its striking beauty.