Sunday, December 14, 2008

Yael Goldstein Love/THE PASSION OF TASHA DARSKY


Tasha Darsky is the world's most celebrated violinist, a virtuoso renowned for the sensuality with which she plays (even People magazine selected her as one of the sexiest women alive). The precocious daughter of New York art dealers, Tasha took up violin when she was a child and composing when she was in high school. But no matter how well she plays or how beloved she is to the world at large, Tasha struggles with three dear passions that cause her nothing but grief--a French composer she met at Harvard before she dropped out; the music she used to compose when she still believed in herself; and her teenage daughter, Alex, another genius who refuses to be reconciled with her mother. When a reporter comes to interview her, Tasha begins to unpack the history of her career, and to wonder which "passion" the passion of Tasha Darsky really is.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It isn't a novel so much as a [short] saga of one woman's life, and the book is pleasurably (and irritatingly) full of musical geniuses that remind me of the people I used to be insanely jealous of (and wanted to be close to, of course).

This book caught my eye because of the beautiful paperback package, which features a violin. It's true I'll buy anything with a stringed instrument (or really any kind of instrument, or even just musical notes) on the front cover. But the reason I ended up buying it was that I noticed as I flipped through that it had been previously published in hardcover with a different title--Overture--and under a different author name--Yael Goldstein. What I deduce from this is that whoever the editor of the book was, she had great faith in the novel and thought it was wonderful. When the initial hardcover publication flopped (it must have flopped, or they wouldn't have done anything as drastic as change the title and author name) the editor refused to be beaten; she proposed a complete repackaging, including a title that took the book in a very different direction. I was intrigued to see what made the book that worthwhile.

I personally found the book engrossing and couldn't stop reading it. After reading a couple of slightly sour or at least lukewarm reviews online, I wonder if maybe this is a book that musicians (or former wannabe musicians, like me) respond to especially, and if the reviewers who were a little harsher to Goldstein/Love were perhaps not quite the target audience. I would recommend this book to any music lover in a heartbeat--I already have recommended it to a couple of people.

For those curious about such things, here's the cover image from the hardcover edition.

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