Friday, February 21, 2020

Night Music, by Jenn Marie Thorne

Ruby is the youngest member of the Chertok musical dynasty.  Her father teaches at the elite Amberley School.  But the truth is that Ruby is failing to make it and, after she botches her audition at Amberley, she realizes that she needs to find something else.  But what?

Oscar is a musical genius.  Taken under the wing of Ruby’s father, he is positioned to become something truly revolutionary. As a young black man, everyone wants to pigeonhole him as a ‘disadvantaged’ kid and use him to promote a diversity fund at the school, rather than pay homage to his actual talent.  Ruby seems to be the only one who can see beyond his race and truly appreciate his musical genius.  But with the shock to her own dreams, can any appreciation of him be truly selfless?  And is she hanging on him out of love or desperation?

A smart and fun romance with smarts in a glorious rarified setting.  It's got rich kids in Manhattan, classical music, fancy parties and glitz, and a final climax at the Lincoln Center.  On top of this is an intelligent take on how race and class (and a large generation gap) play out in elite artistic circles.

Beyond the story, Ruby and Oscar are fun and complicated.  Oscar does tortured artist well, but it is Ruby’s family and their beautiful psychopathy that steals the show.  In short space, Thorne packs a strong emotional punch with each member of the Chertok family (regretful father, cold and steely mother, siblings unable to reconcile).  The result is light and enjoyable entertainment, with some depth and substance behind it to give you the feeling that you aren't just reading a romance. A beach read, to be sure, but a superior one at that.

No comments: