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Maestro Hersey (Fling and Other Stories, 1990, etc.) composes a stately, richly detailed symphony of novel about the creation and fate of a very special Stradivarius violin. In 1699, Antonio Stradivari, severe and superb at 55, glimpses Antonia, a beautiful young widow, as she sways across a piazza in Cremona. A widower who never loved his rapacious first wife, Stradivari is so moved by the sight of Antonia that he bends to his workbench and designs a new violin, one he will name Antonietta. His hand slips once when he hears there may be a snag in his plan to marry Antonia, and even when the marriage contract is signed he leaves the nick in the fretboard as a mark of his great passion. It will become a legendary flaw, and its story will be told (and told wrong) through the centuries. Stradivari knows how especially resonant his Antonietta is, building from the ``trills of something like seduction'' to ``soar on the madness of the wings of love.'' He could never imagine, however, how many hands it will pass through, and how great many hearts its exquisite sound will touchamong them young Mozart, who borrows Antonietta from a concertmaster in Paris. After the concertmaster's death, the violin is stolen by pirates, finally to be recovered and purchased by a brilliant violinist named Baillot. Playing the Stradivari, he becomes an inspiration for the turbulent and original composer Berlioz, who ``burst into tears and went over and kissed the top of Antonietta's case'' when he finishes the last movement of his startling Symphonie fantastique. Antonietta also stirs the complex Russian heart of Stravinsky, in exile in Switzerland. Alas, as of 1990, the sensuous Antonietta has become the property of a tone-deaf, status-obsessed Martha's Vineyard financier. Writing in a multitude of voices and formsletters, narrative, screenplayHersey offers a virtuoso performance.

Pub Date: May 7, 1991

ISBN: 0-679-40194-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1991

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Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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