Let the Music Sway Your Heart

Goodbye, Paris

by Anstey Harris

When I was younger, I was a promising violin player. I was also a military child. At one location, my school had only a band, not an orchestra. My only outlet was with the city’s youth orchestra, which was incredibly intense. The combination of overly-intense youth orchestra and no causal school orchestra caused me to quit. I simply burned out.

Reading this book brought back all of my love for the violin. The imagery that Harris created through the sounds of the instruments and the look, feel, and smell of the stringed instruments gave me incredible peace. There were times where I felt like I could smell the resin.

The book centers around Grace, a violin maker who has not played in front of people since college. She was the victim of an abusive professor who made her practice until her fingers bled. One day, he kicked her out of school. That embarrassing moment mixed with Grace’s extreme shyness made her unable to play in front of people, including the love of her life, David. Instead, she became an extremely talented violin maker.

Grace and David were together for 8 years and had a beautiful connection with one caveat– David was married with children. They would meet in Paris often and play out their love life. David’s wife apparently knew, but they had a “don’t ask, don’t tell” agreement. Grace was looking forward to the day that David would move out so they could begin their lives together. Then, David saved a stranger who had fallen onto a train platform, and everything changed. After David’s identity was uncovered in the media, Grace received a note from David’s wife revealing a secret.

Grace was so heartbroken over David’s untruths that she has a breakdown, smashing every instrument in her shop. Afterwards, she realizes in horror that she smashed two very important instruments: A cello she was making for a world-renowned instrument making competition in Cremona, Italy, and an amateur violin that had been brought to her by her 86-year-old friend, Mr. Williams. Mr. William’s violin had been made by his friend Alan, who had died in the war. Shortly after, Grace’s teenage employee, Nadia, discovered that Grace had read her diary and stormed out.

After some soul searching and apologizing, Mr. Williams and Nadia both encouraged Grace to fix the cello and enter the competition anyway. She did under the condition that they acknowledged that it could not win. But, looks can always be deceiving.

This book was magical, lyrical, and adorably sweet. You can’t help but fall in love with the trio of Grace, angry teenager Nadia, and the eccentric, yet wise, Mr. Williams. If you have ever fallen in love with a stringed instrument, this book will whisper to you. I loved every second of it.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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