Maybe it’s because I know jack about classical or chamber music, but I just could not muster a single fuck to give about this book. My high school required a music history class so I at least recognized some of the names tossed around but just like … damn. I work in the visual arts, folks, I can talk about that all the live long day. But even the manufactured drama in this book was boring.
The Ensemble is about a chamber music string quartet. A cello, a viola, and two violins (and try to read this book without just reading that as three violins, I dare you). All four players are different people from different backgrounds who share a love of music and the ability to play pretty damn well together. I liked that they weren’t superstars (with the exception of the prodigy on the viola that they never let you forget) but the book is written in a way that actually hides their big performances and successes. I get that the author wants you to focus on the music and not the plot, but at the same time, you’re writing a novel, lady, not a score.
Anyway, we follow them over the course of about two decades as they move from the West Coast to the East Coast and back again. There’s some competition in Canada that I assume is real because who would make that up. Two of them are knocking boots and then they aren’t. There are a few moderately interesting characters that could have been explored more but the whole thing overall left me disappointed I spent my time on it.