(For maximum review enjoyment, please listen to the video!)
One of the benefits of listening to the audiobook for this was the presence of the music. Incendio is the waltz that is central to the book, and in the audiobook you can hear it throughout the narration. It was not until I was finished with the book that I saw that the author had composed Incendio! (So to all the people who claimed that the music “detracted” from the story, you suck. Because here, the written music is just as important as the written word!) It really is a beautiful and haunting piece, and it is performed well.
We have two stories happening here. Julia is in the present day. She is a professional violinist who purchases an old piece of hand-written sheet music, Incendio, in an antique shop in Rome. When she gets home to the states, she plays it on her porch outside while her 3-year-old daughter Lily plays with the family cat.
Julia is so captivated by Incendio that she notices nothing but the music and her violin. When she comes to, her daughter is covered in blood and the cat is dead. The next time Julia plays the piece, another act of violence occurs. Convinced that the music is causing this behavior in her daughter, Julia tries to track down the composer, an L. Todesco, to discover the history of the piece. Her search eventually takes her to Venice.
Our other story is about Lorenzo Todesco, a talented Jewish violinist living in Venice in 1938. You can probably guess where this is going, and you would be correct. A lot of times I had the reaction of “Oh no, this bad thing is going to happen!” and then the bad thing would happen. A very few times the bad thing did not happen. I enjoyed Lorenzo’s story. (Well, maybe not “enjoyed.” He was a Jew during the Holocaust.) It felt very realistic, and I would not have been surprised if it had been based on a real person. In a way, parts of it were.
I feel like the end of Julia’s story was a bit of a cop out. There were many directions the author could have taken the story, but she went with the path that she did. There were some hints at other possible storylines (her friend gave a possible one) but it was a red herring.
I kept waiting for another connection from Lorenzo to Julia (perhaps her violin used to be his?) but there wasn’t one, and I think that was a good choice. It would have made an already thin connection even more unbelievable.
I give it 4 stars. We lose one on the ending, but gain it back on the awesome music!