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Sheet Music
By M.J. Rose
ISBN:0345451066

Review by: Elizabeth Blakesley Lindsay

  1/1/04

M.J. Rose plays with several genres in Sheet Music, including suspense, memoir, romance and family saga. The novel features journalist Justine Pagett, an American living in Paris. As the novel opens, we see her betray a lover in order to publish a story. This backfires and she finds herself alone personally and alienated professionally. As the narrative progresses, we learn of her childhood role as sidekick to her famous chef mother, her obsessive grief and the subsequent rift between her, her father and sister following the death of her mother, and the history of a relationship with a cellist that ended badly.

Trying to recover professionally from the scandal that opens the novel, Justine heads home to New York to interview a famous but reclusive female conductor. The article will be a coup for Justine and will have a positive impact on her career, but she soon learns that someone is opposed to the project. Justine begins receiving threats, but she is unwilling to give up the story. Rose seamlessly intertwines a tale of psychological suspense with a story of renewal and redemption for Justine.

In addition to creating rich characters, Rose succeeds in evoking the richness of the music and the food that play such important roles in the narrative. This novel involves all the senses while keeping the reader engrossed in the mysterious occurrences and emotional turbulence that drive the plot.

Although all turns out fairly well for Justine in the end, the novel is realistic in its portrayal of relationships and avoids a cliched happy ending. Sheet Music is well-written, at times even lyrical, and the characters will appeal to many readers.

 



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