An Equal Music by Vikram Seth


Summary from Goodreads:

Michael Holme is a violinist, a member of the successful Maggiore Quartet. He has long been haunted, though, by memories of the pianist he loved and left ten years earlier, Julia McNicholl. Now Julia, married and the mother of a small child, unexpectedly reenters his life and the romance flares up once more.

I’ve had my eye on Seth’s modern classic A Suitable Boy for a while now but a friend recommended that I give this one a go first. My reaction could best be described as… mixed. Although apparently I gave this one 4/5 stars on Goodreads so leaning towards the positive end of the mixed spectrum… Let’s call it positively mixed. Yeah, let’s do that.

My first concern was the glut of classical music references in the novel – an aspect that has turned me off other books in the past. But the writing is so fantastic and engaging that I couldn’t help but reading on. Seth’s writing was positively cinematic at points – when Michael first catches sight of his long lost love and tries to chase down her bus on Oxford St, I was actually on the edge of my seat.

Now for the bad: I couldn’t care less about the characters or the plot. How could anyone be expected to enjoy reading about a character who un-ironically says things like: “Well, ’tis better to have loved and lost, though, isn’t it, Mrs. Formby, than never to have loved at all?”  The best way to describe Julia and Michael? Dull, dull, dull, trite, and dull.

Anyone else have an example of a book they loved for the writing but couldn’t stand the characters or the plot?

5 thoughts on “An Equal Music by Vikram Seth

  1. Hm… I don’t really know that I can think of a book where I couldn’t stand the characters or plot, but I will say that my enjoyment of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor was definitely more due to the writing than anything else. That said, I didn’t hate anyone in it or the plot- I just never felt invested enough to finish the series. I still do reread that first installment when I need something lighter but pretty to read, though. And I genuinely adore Taylor’s short story collection Lips Touch Three Times, which mixes the gorgeous writing in with some spectacularly creepy and disturbing plotlines.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I just bought A Suitable Boy! 😀 I haven’t read this or any of his other works, but people say his writing is fantastic! I hope I can finish reading A Suitable Boy before the BBC adaptation comes out. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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