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Having reviewed a good few novels threaded through with classical music over the years, I find it intriguing just how many writers of fiction are drawn to do this. It’s a real challenge, of course: easy to appear pretentious, difficult to pitch the crotchets-and-quavers just right so that this element neither leaves the non-musical reader trailing in your wake, nor appears trivial to the artistically-minded aficionado. Use the music as colour, or dare to write a novel for the general reader which has music at its core?

Solomons takes the latter option. Here’s a novel that breathes a deep sympathy with and knowledge of music – of repertoire, the concert world and the musical mind. she gives herself the added test of taking on a male persona – the increasingly celebrated composer and musician, Harry Fox-Talbot. By and large this works well. as if all this wasn’t enough to be going on with, Solomons chooses also to negotiate the not-so-easy business of working with parallel time-planes and of writing both in the past and present tense.

Solomons successfully brings her now substantial experience as a novelist to bear in meeting these varied challenges. Those musical threads rarely jar, skilfully interwoven into the broader narrative as they are. And music is doubly interwoven, insofar as Harry Fox-Talbot’s life-long love is a captivating performer of the folksong genre, Edie Rose. She is the object not just of his love, though, and therein hangs the tortured tale which will likely grab even those who don’t give a damn about any sort of music.

Heartwarmingly, the narrative also has as a key element the ever-developing passion of Fox-Talbot’s 21st-century grandson for classical music, with – guess what? – an appearance in the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition as the action draws towards its bitter-sweet but satisfying ending. Plenty of optimism there, then.

Solomons has a flowing, lyrical style that draws the reader in. opinions may vary as to whether the tale is strung out a shade too long. But if appreciating subtlety and nuance in the area of human relationships is your thing, sign up for The Song Collector.

ANDREW GREEN Read the full review on Agora Classica

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