An engaging twist on a classic opera, lush with drama and romance in a contemporary setting.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017

THE OTHER LA BOHÈME

Four friends withstand the personal and financial trials of the New York opera scene while performing in La Bohème to break into a first-tier company.

In this novel, Henry Anderson, Stephanie Frank, Jennifer Schneider, and John Bertucci are known by the professional designation Dolci Quattro, or “The Sweet Four.” Bound by their long-standing friendship and devotion to opera since they met at the Manhattan School of Music, they are playing the principal roles in Leoncavallo’s La Bohème, jokingly called “the other La Bohème” because it is infrequently performed compared to the Puccini version. They are passionately committed to opera despite the New York monetary challenges, the cost of private lessons, and the stresses the ascetic lifestyle puts on relationships. Nevertheless, they all struggle. At one point, Henry muses: “I wish I could forget about opera. Then all of my suffering would be over.” Yet they find immense joy in the art form. For Jennifer, “her gift was her life.” If well-attended and praised by critics, this production could be the quartet’s big break. But performing such a controversial version of a beloved piece could mean disaster if not spectacular in vocal quality and execution. The Dolci Quattro members vow to support one another through the emotional turmoil leading up to the opening and the most pivotal moment of their careers. Keith (Remembrance of Blue Roses, 2016) expertly captures the emotional drama and physical exertion of the opera world while employing an intriguing convention: paying homage to La Bohème by mirroring its plot in a modern setting through the Dolci Quattro. The four friends portray the opera principals while simultaneously living like the characters they play, similar to the musical Kiss Me Kate. This lucid tribute extends to cleverly structuring the novel in four acts, broken into scenes rather than chapters. The only misstep: the plot of La Bohème and the story behind its composition aren’t explained until a third of the way through the tale. Despite this flaw, fans of opera and New York fiction should enjoy this appealing homage to the urban bohemian lifestyle.

An engaging twist on a classic opera, lush with drama and romance in a contemporary setting. 

Pub Date: March 23, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4835-9198-8

Page Count: 364

Publisher: BookBaby

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

Did you like this book?

FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS

This is good Hemingway. It has some of the tenderness of A Farewell to Arms and some of its amazing power to make one feel inside the picture of a nation at war, of the people experiencing war shorn of its glamor, of the emotions that the effects of war — rather than war itself — arouse. But in style and tempo and impact, there is greater resemblance to The Sun Also Rises. Implicit in the characters and the story is the whole tragic lesson of Spain's Civil War, proving ground for today's holocaust, and carrying in its small compass, the contradictions, the human frailties, the heroism and idealism and shortcomings. In retrospect the thread of the story itself is slight. Three days, during which time a young American, a professor who has taken his Sabbatical year from the University of Montana to play his part in the struggle for Loyalist Spain and democracy. He is sent to a guerilla camp of partisans within the Fascist lines to blow up a strategic bridge. His is a complex problem in humanity, a group of undisciplined, unorganized natives, emotionally geared to go their own way, while he has a job that demands unreasoning, unwavering obedience. He falls in love with a lovely refugee girl, escaping the terrors of a fascist imprisonment, and their romance is sharply etched against a gruesome background. It is a searing book; Hemingway has done more to dramatize the Spanish War than any amount of abstract declamation. Yet he has done it through revealing the pettinesses, the indignities, the jealousies, the cruelties on both sides, never glorifying simply presenting starkly the belief in the principles for which these people fought a hopeless war, to give the rest of the world an interval to prepare. There is something of the implacable logic of Verdun in the telling. It's not a book for the thin-skinned; it has more than its fill of obscenities and the style is clipped and almost too elliptical for clarity at times. But it is a book that repays one for bleak moments of unpleasantness.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1940

ISBN: 0684803356

Page Count: 484

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1940

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more