THE PHILOMEL FOUNDATION by James Gollin

THE PHILOMEL FOUNDATION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The very real world of professional musicians (pre-classical chamber-music division) meets the very fake, familiar world of spy fiction. Result? A fairly ingratiating little book that dims a bit as the music fades and the farfetched plotting takes over. Narrator Alan French is a versatile, not-quite-starving musician who's quasi-leader of Manhattan's Antiqua Players--a quintet of Upper West Side types (four guys and beautiful Jackie) devoted to Early Music played on authentic instruments (lute, viola da gamba, harpsichord, recorder, etc.). And when Alan receives an invitation from the Philomel Foundation to play for big bucks in Switzerland and Germany, the quintet eagerly grabs the gig. . . despite some worries over the Foundation's real motives. Sure enough, once the tiresome has wowed Geneva, the Philomel chief--a slick U.S. millionaire--begs the players to help sneak a famous dissident cellist out of East Germany. The group semi-reluctantly complies, manages the escape during an outdoor concert (through a childishly implausible ruse), and Alan--now engaged to hard-to-get Jackie--finds that he's been the dupe for a convoluted CIA scare. Absolute nonsense, spy-wise, and derivative to boot. But this is one thriller where the biggest suspense involves whether Alan can get through his wooden-flute solo without losing his breath control; and music lovers may well want to tolerate the espionage twaddle while enjoying Gollin's breezily gritty, mostly amusing insider's-view of those who make serious music on the unglamorous fringes of the concert world.

Pub Date: Feb. 22nd, 1979
Publisher: St. Martin's