Bonnie Marson's debut novel, Sleeping with Schubert, is the unlikely story of what happens when the passionate spirit of a legendary 19th-century composer inhabits an ordinary Brooklyn lawyer. While the premise of this exploration seems preposterous (and often is too unbelievable to merit any serious thought), Marson does a commendable job of creating a genuinely likeable protagonist whom she surrounds with an equally amusing and entertaining cast of supporting characters. These portraits, combined with a sharp, witty sense of irony on the author's part, save this book from what could have been a grave misstep into the world of fantasy Chick Lit.
Sleeping with Schubert follows its heroine Liza Durbin from her debut at a Nordstrom piano to a full-fledged world tour that culminates in a grand finale at Lincoln Center. Along the way, Liza's quirky family make guest appearances, as well as her on-again/off-again boyfriend Patrick, her eccentric piano teacher, and a host of admirers and jealous acquaintances posing as well-wishers. Because this is inherently Chick Lit, Marson indulges in the issues so central to the genre, including warped body images, stunning sisters, cherished best friends, bad hair days, and crazy mothers ("Your father and I have a theory. Maybe you could be just a teeny little bit like an idiot-savant."). However, Schubert's presence adds a layer of complexity that is rare to this type of book; rather than dwelling on the hardships of magazine publishing and office flirtations, Marson treats the reader to a bit of culture and sophistication. By combining an unusual circumstance with a welcome and inviting level of introspection that is rare to most heroines in the genre, Marson offers audiences the chance to imagine a reality in which baby grand pianos fit in Brooklyn apartments and frumpy lawyers can become renowned Romantic composers. --Gisele Toueg
It seems that the legendary composer Franz Schubert is alive—well, sort of—in the twenty-first century: His soul has taken up residence in the body of Brooklyn lawyer Liza Durbin. Even more astonishing, so has his prodigious gift. A mediocre pianist at best as a child, Liza can suddenly pound out concertos and compose masterly music out of the blue. But how can a brilliant male Austrian composer from the nineteenth century coexist in the everyday life of a modern American woman? And how can Liza explain what’s happened to her without everyone thinking she’s gone off the deep end?
Fortunately, the evidence is tangible, and Liza is soon brought into the esteemed halls of Juilliard under the tutelage of the revered—and feared—Greta Pretsky, a humorless woman whose only interest in Liza is her channeling of Schubert. Greta’s greedy for her next big star, and the entire New York City press is whispering of Liza’s brilliance as the public awaits her debut at Carnegie Hall. Even Liza’s boyfriend, Patrick, seems more in love with her than ever.
Yet as Liza yields to Franz’s great passion, her own life and identity threaten to elude her. Why was she chosen as the vessel for this musical genius—and when, if ever, will he leave? Their entwined souls follow a path of ecstasy, peril, and surprise as they search for the final, liberating truth.
A strikingly original novel, Sleeping with Schubert plays on years of speculation regarding Franz Schubert’s “Unfinished Symphony.” Bonnie Marson’s extraordinary imagination supposes that Schubert cannot truly die until the mystery is solved—even if it means being resurrected in the body of a deceptively ordinary woman. Filled with drama and humor, this irresistible novel explores love, genius, and identity in ways that will engage and amaze readers.
From the Hardcover edition.
If You Enjoy "Sleeping with Schubert: A Novel (Paperback)", May We Also Recommend: