Thursday, May 04, 2006
Marrying Mozart - Stephanie Cowell [May/06]
This is not a typical read for me. I am not a music fanatic, so reading a novel that centred on the life of Mozart was a new experience for me. I picked it up, actually, because it was a bargain novel at the bookstore because the softcover version had just become available. I was not disappointed.
The novel begins in Mannheim, Germany in 1777. Four sisters, the Weber girls, live in an apartment with their musical father and understanding mother. Every Thursday evening, some of the greatest musicians in the area travel up five flights of stairs for an evening of wonderful music and great food. It is a time when mothers are considered about prospects for their daughters, and so their mother keeps a notebook with all the names of the prospective men for her daughters. On one musical evening, twenty-one-year-old Wolfgang Mozart walks into their home and takes a permanent place in the sisters lives.
The novel is told from the perspective of the young daughter, Sophie. She is at the end of her life and a man has come to learn more about the sisters that influenced Mozart's music. She speaks of how "Mozart is entralled with the Weber sisters: Aloysia's beauty and talent captivate him; Josefa's rich voice inspires him; Sophie becomes his confidante; and Constanze comes to play a surprising role in his life" [Back of book]. These four women became the centre-point to many of Mozart's great works of music. He used his experiences with them to write the beautiful music that still touches the hearts of people today.
Music may have been Mozart's first love, but these sisters found a way to captivate him. They are all unique characters and the reader witnesses what it was like to grow up in eighteenth-century Europe. At its heart, this novel is a love story, but it is up to the reader to determine who the lover is. This was an interesting look at both Mozart and the world that he lived in. Told from the perspective of many of the characters, you get a sense of who this young man was and the family that was always close to his heart.