Hazel and Nicholas have what others might view as a cosmopolitan life – Nicholas is a young (at least relatively), much sought-after conductor who has traveled across the world in posts at conservatories and orchestras. He is about the music, to the fault of everything else in his life, including his beautiful wife Hazel and their young daughter Jessie. Hazel is a presence that is both strong in being the glue that keeps the nomadic household together, and ghost-like in being a fading presence when she should be speaking up for herself and her needs. Then there is Remy, a young conservatory violin student who works very hard and is willing to do what it takes to try and break out of always being second best. Daphne Kalotay brings us a character study of these three very different people in her latest book Sight Reading.
After the first few chapters the characters, and this book, could have become a cliche once Nicholas discovers he has fallen in love with Remy. Instead, Kalotay develops them and gives them even more depth as we grow to understand who each of these people are. And what I enjoyed best about this book and Kalotay’s approach is that she does this without lots of drama, it is quiet and subtle, building – much like the symphonies that Nicholas directs and Remy performs. Even during what could be big, dramatic events there is no melodrama, just life and moving on. But it is not just the characters Kalotay develops that make this book so enjoyable to read, for me it is how she weaves Boston into the story (a place I dearly love) and her depth of knowledge of music and instruments that she shares make this a very robust, smart novel.
** I received this book as an uncorrected proof for review from the publisher, Harper.