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Review: "The First Violin" by Jessie Fothergill

The First Violin may be downloaded for free from our ebook catalog.

First published in 1877, The First Violin is told in first-person from two points of view. It begins with May Wedderburn living a quiet existence in a small town in England. Her quiet is disrupted when she attracts the attentions of the local wealthy landowner, Sir Peter. May has no interest in Sir Peter's offer of marriage and is even afraid of him. There are dark rumors about his last marriage and the circumstances surrounding his wife's demise (Jane Eyre anyone?). Enter the town recluse and sister of Sir Peter's late wife who offers to whisk May away to Germany where music and excitement await her immediately upon arrival.

The synopsis above is the first couple of chapters, and from there it is hard to stop reading. The story is part mystery, part romance, and part opera. May does indeed encounter the excitement she craves, and she also experiences a great musical awakening in the land of Bach and Schumann.

Since it was the purpose of this site to dig up works from decades or even centuries ago that deserve a wider audience today, it was such a joy to find this book (recommended by a site visitor).  The only slight disappointment for me came at the end where author Fothergill takes advantage of a few unbelievable coincidences. Also, if you are not prepared for the first-person narration to start switching around the middle of the book, it may be confusing. Otherwise The First Violin is a perfect novel, one that has stayed with me since I read it, and one I will be revisiting many times in the future. Brushing up on one's classical composers before reading will no doubt heighten the enjoyment of this excellent story.


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