Friday, 14 September 2018

Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

- Source: my bookshelf -

BLURB
An accomplished concert pianist, Richard received standing ovations from audiences all over the world in awe of his rare combination of emotional resonance and flawless technique. Every finger of his hands was a finely calibrated instrument, dancing across the keys and striking each note with exacting precision. That was eight months ago.

Richard now has ALS, and his entire right arm is paralysed. His fingers are impotent, still, devoid of possibility. The loss of his hand feels like death, a loss of true love, a divorce - his divorce.

He knows his left arm will go next.

Three years ago, Karina removed their framed wedding picture from the living room wall and hung a mirror there instead. But she still hasn't moved on. Karina is paralysed by the excuses and fear, stuck in an unfulfilling life as a piano teacher, afraid to pursue the path she abandoned as a young woman, blaming Richard and their failed marriage for all of it.

When Richard becomes increasingly paralysed and is no longer able to live on his own, Karina becomes his reluctant caretaker. As Richard's muscles, voice and breath fade, both he and Karina try to reconcile their past before it's too late.

Poignant and powerful, Every Note Played is a masterful exploration of redemption and what it means to find peace inside of forgiveness.

THOUGHTS
In Every Note Played, Lisa Genova's newest novel, we are taken into the complicated relationship of divorced Richard & Karina, meeting them at a fragile time, but also an incredibly devastating one: Richard has recently been diagnosed with ALS (or motor neurone disease, as we refer to it here in the UK). Being a pianist by profession, losing the use of his arms and hands is heart breaking for Richard, and as he struggles to comes to terms with this, the disease is progressing all the while. There comes a time where Richard has to face the facts and acknowledge that he needs help - more then the hospital and his home aides provide - and ends up moving back into the home he once shared with Karina, and their now college age daughter, Grace.
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What I found interesting in this book is how little conversation and dialogue there is, with a lot of introspection and thought, from both main characters of Richard and Karina. A lot of the narrative follows the things that play on their mind, those unspoken words, what ifs, and more. Not only did I find this interesting to read, but I feel like it made the story all the more genuine - the kind of thing that can occur when a debilitating illness takes hold of a loved one.
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The way in which Richard was written as a character was really well done. Although I found him to be an unlikeable man (for many reasons), I connected with him also - sympathising with him & supporting him every step of the way. As a reader, seeing Richard weaken as the story continues is difficult to read at times, especially as Lisa Genova details his care in great length with some very candid moments included.
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As with Lisa Genova's other novels, this book is one that hits your emotions - and hard. The way in which she writes is so frank, honest and open; educating at the same time. I think it is amazing the way in which Lisa Genova uses her voice and writing to tell fictional stories that highlight very real, and often hard to confront, diseases.
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Whilst this wasn't my favourite Lisa Genova title (Still Alice is likely to hold that place forever), it is a book I am glad to have read and one I would recommend to others.
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6 comments

  1. Oh I love novels about music! And this one definitely sounds sad as well. 😭 I'd probably struggle with liking the characters though if they're not super nice...but PIANISTS.

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    1. Its a great read, even with the not so likeable characters.

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  2. I lost an aunt to ALS a few years ago so this book was a really emotional read for me. Still Alice is my favorite Genova read as well.

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    1. So sorry to hear that; I can only imagine how your reading experience was of this.

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  3. Hi Jade, happy to have time to visit some of my favourite bloggers. I love Lisa Genova and her writing style and like you I'm sure Still Alice will always be my favourite from her, it is top 3 favourite of all time.

    I started reading this when it came out but I stopped, usually it becomes a mood thing. I stopped when the ex wife went to visit him, I definitely need to try again.

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    1. Lovely to hear from you, Marce :-)

      Yeah, I definitely wouldn't say this one is comparable to some of her other novels, however well worth a read.

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