Published by Other Press on May 19, 2015
Genres: General Fiction
A debut novel about a daughter grappling with the legacy of her famous and imposing cellist father, the secrets he has hidden from her, and the fate of his great Stradivarius cello.
Alexander Feldmann is a revered and sought-after performer whose prodigious talent, striking good looks and worldly charm prove irresistible to all who hear and encounter him. After years of searching, he acquires a glorious cello, The Silver Swan, a rare Stradivarius masterpiece long lost to the world of music.
Mariana is Alexander’s only child and the maestro has large ambitions for her. By the age of nineteen she emerges as a star cellist in her own right, and is seen as the inheritor of her father's genius. There are whispers that her career might well outpace his. Mariana believes The Silver Swan will one day be hers, until a stunning secret from her father’s past entwines her fate and that of The Silver Swan in ways she could never have imagined.
The plot for The Silver Swan by Elena Delbanco was a strange combination of the films Intermezzo and Serendipity. Being a staunch classic film admirer, I would never dream of pairing Kate Beckinsale and Leslie Howard together. Although, it in this case, with a crazed composer and the makings of a wrong place wrong time subplot I think it would work.
Impressions While Reading
While the story may have started out predictable it soon took a different turn. Greed was a major theme in Delbanco’s plot. Marianna, unable to cope with the loss of the priceless instrument devises a plan, turning what could have been the film Serendipity into a fast-paced heist story.
I found Francine and in turn her son Claude to be reminiscent of the Sackville-Baggins. In The Lord of the Rings, Lobelia awaits the day when she will inherit Bag End and bides her time counting the silver with her idiotic son Lotho following in her wake. While she loses out upon Bilbo’s disappearance; the gloating she exhibits when acquiring it from Frodo is enough to make one vomit. This is exactly how I felt whenever Francine and Claude entered the room.
Marianna did not fare better in my book. She was a spoiled brat and was also difficult to like. Truthfully, I don’t have much to say about her and would liken her to the Hobbit Merry. He is a smart Halfling but will always play second fiddle to Pippen and his antics.
Alexander Feldman, of course, is the unseen Sauron. He is always present with continuous control over what is precious, only disappearing when wickedness is set ablaze.
Despite the numerous pop culture references, The Silver Swan by Elena Delbanco was a novel all its own and was quickly enraptured by the music it produced.