Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Silver Swan

Alexander Feldman is a virtuoso violinist and well regarded teacher who is sought after for his talents and revered by the music community. He is also volatile, passionate, and sometimes cruel. In the middle of his career, he bought the Silver Swan, a Stradivarius cello, to play for his career and pass on to his daughter, Mariana. She performs and teaches well herself, but abruptly quits her career after a failed concert and a scandal involving a years long affair with a married conductor. Now, she focuses on taking care of her father as a passes 90 years old. He passes away and leaves her a note, detailing his decades long affair with another woman. Then another bomb drops when he leaves the beloved and priceless Silver Swan to that woman's son, Claude Roselle, so the cello can continue to be heard in performance. These revelations turn Mariana's world upside down and she starts to come apart at the seams.

I am a musician and love music, so I have a hard time passing up books about music. The Silver Swan has a lot of enjoyable elements. Alexander's magnetic presence is all over the novel, even after he has died. He is wonderful and terrible all at once. His tremendous talent makes him justify his giant ego and his selfish, demanding nature. It was especially interesting to see all sides of him and how each character viewed him. Mariana sees the most of both. He wants her to succeed and become great, but he also doesn't want her to surpass him, so he puts her down whenever he can. Their relationship is complex and difficult. The musical elements are well described and actually accurate.

Unfortunately, all the characters are pretty awful. Mariana seems pretty reasonable and relatable at first, but rapidly becomes unlikable. She is so upset that her dad cheated for so long, but she had a years long affair with a married man as well. It doesn't really make sense. I'm more surprised that he didn't have more lovers and children out there. Claude is just a huge douchebag. He begins an affair with Mariana while he is in a committed relationship with someone else without disclosing it when Mariana specifically asked. He ignores his girlfriend when he's with Mariana and then Mariana when he's with his girlfriend. Then he wonders why everyone is mad at him and laments over wanting to be free from being tied down while also sleeping with any woman he wants. Claude is the whiniest, childish idiot and I kind wish he would just shut up. The whole book is like two children fighting over a toy.

Some of the plot developments got really weird and V.C. Andrews-esque. There's a really weird scene where Mariana's mom accuses her of incest and replacing her with Alexander. It was really off the wall and out of place. There was enough there to be interesting without venturing into this territory. The back cover touts it as being sensual and sexy, but it's really quite awkward and not very well written. Overall, The Silver Swan is an interesting read but has a lot of big flaws that makes it insufferable by the end.

My rating: 2/5 fishmuffins

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