Leslie Chase, a young composer, receives the use of an ocean-side Maine house from her patron so she may complete her first opera. As Leslie battles loneliness and winter snowstorms, she meets a handsome but troubled man, Matti, and becomes enmeshed with him and his enigmatic relationship with her benefactor. When three opera singers visit, one of them, Sasha, begins to flirt with her, evoking Leslie’s sexual ambivalence and traumatic memories of an affair between her mother and another woman that inspired the choice of her opera’s subject—the relationships of Vita Sackville-West with Violet Trefusis and Virginia Woolf. As the emotional spaces between the characters compress, mysteries are exposed that lead to violent conflict.
Patriza DeCarmine Conte wrote:
“A rich, moving novel with deep characters and a heroine who is struggling to understand herself as a woman, as a creative artist, and as a person dealing with relationship ambivalence. These interwoven, messy, beautiful lives make for great drama. As a composer, I really relate to Leslie and find much truth in her worries about deadlines, how people will react to her opera, and her fears of failure. Her passion feels authentic, and the written lyrics make me hear music. Though the book is set in 1994, the power disparity between an older male patron and a younger female artist is especially timely. A riveting book from beginning to end!”
“This thoroughly enjoyable page-turner grips the reader's attention from the outset. Set in a mansion on the rugged Maine coastline in winter, accompa¬nied by the relentless, dark ostinato of the ocean waves below, the story powerfully propels us through mysterious twists and turns to the surprising denouement. With richly delineated charac¬ters, the plot centers on composer, Leslie Chase, as she struggles to realize her life's creative ambition amid the disquiet she discovers in and around her. Ms. Egan adeptly draws us into the layers of the story, as we navigate Leslie's journey toward her ultimate goal—and herself.”
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