Two more fine books by new or exciting writers have landed on my back porch.
DEVIL'S TRILL. From concert violinist Gerald Elias comes this debut set in the classical music world about the theft of a priceless violin. Daniel Jacobus is a blind, reclusive, crotchety violin teacher living in self-imposed exile in rural New England. He spends his time chain-smoking, listening to old LPs, and occasionally taking on new students, whom he berates in the hope that they will flee. Jacobus is drawn back into the world he left behind when he decides to attend The Grimsley Competition at Carnegie Hall. The young winner of this competition is granted the honor of playing the Piccolino Stradivarius, a uniquely dazzling three-quarter-size violin that has brought misfortune to all who possessed it over the centuries. But the violin is stolen before the winner of the competition has a chance to play it, and Jacobus is the primary suspect. He sets out to prove his innocence and find the stolen Piccolino Strad. The quest takes him through the halls of wealth and culture, across continents to Japan, and leads him to a murder. DEVIL'S TRILL gives the reader a peek into the world of classical music, with its backstabbing teachers and performers, venal patrons, and shady violin dealers. It is the remarkable beginning of a wonderful new series.
Those who loved COLD MOUNTAIN or Geraldine Brooks's MARCH will embrace and long remember HOMELAND, by Barbara Hambly. It's the story of two remarkable women torn apart by conflict, sustained by literature and art, united by friendship and hope. As brother turns against brother in the bloodbath of the Civil War, two young women sacrifice everything but their friendship. Susanna Ashford is the Southerner, living on a plantation surrounded by scarred and blood-soaked battlefields. Cora Poole is the Northerner, on an isolated Maine island, her beloved husband fighting for the Confederacy. Through the letters the two women exchange, they speak of the ordeal of a familiar world torn apart by tragedy. And yet their unique friendship will help mend the fabric of a ravaged nation. The two women write about books and art, about loss and longing, about their future and the future of their country.