Tuesday, May 21, 2013

In Mozart's Shadow by Carolyn Meyer YP FIC MEYER

Nannerl (try saying that five times fast!) has a bright future ahead of her. As a musical prodigy, she could have something precious few women have in 18th century Salzburg: choice.  Unfortunately, Nannerl is a Mozart (as in THAT Mozart) and when wee Wolfgang starts composing at five her gifts pale next to his blinding genius.  She is all but ignored by her family and stuck at home while her family and future seems to fade away.  Her only hope is in her love of music and of a man she is forbidden to be with. This is her courageous and heartrending story of living and loving in the shadows.

Nannerl is such a fully realized character.  Her resentment and determination is made all the more painful, because she has history against her.  Women in the 18th century simply didn't have the same choices as men and therein lies the drama and tragedy.  however, this isn't just a story of being eclipsed by fame, but also reflects a more universal story of family, love, loss, and acceptance.  Carolyn Meyer excels in making humanity shine in young women from history.  She also excels in capturing period details that transport a reader through time, but making the prose and dialogue accessible and flowing.  She really makes the time and place FEEL lived in and real and the people that live their feel like people of their time.  Sadly, most of her fine novels end with compromises and broken hearts because history is often unkind regardless of sex or station. But Meyer does a stellar job at focusing on moments of joy and brightness and seeing the value in lives that can seem empty from far away. I found myself rooting for Nannerl even though I KNEW what her ending had to be, but when all was said and done Meyer did such a great job at emphasizing the little joys that it both highlighted and undercut the sadness and loneliness in her tale.  

You can check the catalog for In Mozart's Shadow here.

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