Leslie Chase, a young composer, receives the use of an ocean-side Maine house from her patron so she may complete her first opera.
As Leslie struggles with loneliness and winter snowstorms, she meets a handsome but troubled man, Matti, and becomes enmeshed with him and his enigmatic relationship with her benefactor.
When three opera singers visit, one of them, Sasha, begins to flirt with her, evoking Leslie’s sexual ambivalence and traumatic memories of an affair between her mother and another woman that inspired the choice of her opera’s subject—the relationships of Vita Sackville-West with Violet Trefusis and Virginia Woolf.
As the emotional spaces between the characters compress, mysteries are exposed that lead to violent conflict.
A Rich, Warm Tale!
This is very different from my usual reads, and I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it in the beginning.
Leslie Chase is a young composer, struggling to succeed and only managing to keep her head above water thanks to the support of Winston, her patron. She is working on an opera focusing on three women: Virginia Wolff, Vita Sackville-West and Violet Trefusis, when he offers her the use of his oceanside house in Maine so that she may concentrate solely on this project. It’s quite a lonely existence, and Leslie makes the acquaintance of Matti, estate handyman who also appears to have a strange relationship with Winston. When three opera singers come to say, ostensibly to assist with her work, there is a sexual frisson between one of them and Leslie which provokes memories of her mother’s dalliance in years gone by. Being in close contact with others brings things to the surface which, perhaps, were intended to stay hidden.
I admit to struggling a bit with this one; firstly, I’m not musically educated nor a fan of opera so a lot of the composition was lost on me. Secondly, I was thrown by the spelling of ‘Leslie’ – normal spelling for males here (I have a friend called Lesley who delights in the fact that I’m one of the few who can spell her name correctly on Christmas cards). However, I soon found myself immersed in the story and could feel Leslie’s loneliness although, frankly, I would have rather enjoyed it. I’ve never minded my own company and, of course, I would always have a stack of books to hand! With the arrival of the house guests, things began to happen and the whole story became that little bit more dramatic, producing a bit of a mystery along the way. From there on, events were happening quite quickly and I was rather engrossed. I enjoyed that a lot of loose ends were, if not tied up, at least assumed to be heading that way but I would really have loved to know how Leslie’s opera was received. There is, however, no doubt that this is a rich, warm tale set in and around the world of music and very well written indeed. For me, 4*.
My thanks to the author for my copy; this is – as always – my honest, original and unbiased review.
Tags: literary suspense
- Format: ebook, paperback
- Size: 247 pages
- Publisher: Literary Wanderlust
- Publication Date: 01 January 2022
- Book Links:
Laury A. Egan is the author of two young adult/adult novels: The Outcast Oracle (listed as a Kirkus Reviews “Best Book of 2013”) and Turnabout; a literary work, The Swimmer; a literary suspense, Wave in D Minor; a comedy, Fabulous! An Opera Buffa; Fog and Other Stories; a psychological suspense, Jenny Kidd; and two mystery/romance titles: A Bittersweet Tale and The Ungodly Hour. Forthcoming in 2022: a suspense, Doublecrossed; a literary novel, Once, Upon an Island; and a romance, The Firefly. Her stories and poems have appeared in 40 literary journals and in several anthologies. Two full-length poetry volumes, Snow, Shadow, a Stranger and Beneath the Lion’s Paw, were issued by FootHills Publishing in limited edition, as were two chapbooks, Presence & Absence and The Sea & Beyond. Laury is also a fine arts photographer and a former book designer. She lives on the northern coast of New Jersey.