Beth (Sioux Falls SD)
Discovering the Unfamiliar Mozart
Rita Charbonnier has created a wonderful novel depicting the life of Wolfgang Mozart's older sister, known to family and friends as Nannerl. As a child, she too was a prodigy, performing with her brother, but their father's sexist attitudes sent her down another path. This book takes us along with her - to find her place in the world and in music.
Jeanne (Ludlow MA)
Mozart's Sister by Rita Charbonnier
Maria Anna Mozart whose family pet name was Nannerl was the older sister of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Her narrative has rich historical and metaphorical detail. I was charmed throughout ,but one passage which describes the children's musical notes was especially wonderful: "Their notes ran, improvised and anarchic, wild and noisy, from one door to another; they pursued, caught up, became entangled and let go; they flew out the window...." While this is Nannerl's story, her brother impacts her life, and how Nannerl comes to terms with her life and her music will satisfy the reader.
I loved the book for all the reasons mentioned and would recommend to those fascinated with historical fiction or biography.
Betsey (Austin TX)
Poetic with lush, musical imagery but at times too melodramtaic
The story of Nannerl Mozart, Wolfgang's sister, is told in a combination of epistolary and narrative form. It is an historical fiction of a woman with an independent mind and spirit attempting to fit in with the 18th century expectations of womanhood--the story of an anachronistic prodigy that must subvert her musical talent to those of her brother's. The epistolary parts are more lyrical, poetic, and nuanced. They were more immediately felt and fresh sounding than the overwrought narrative, which repeatedly advises us that Nannerl's chauvinistic father was very controlling and that she must sacrifice her musical ambition to promote and help fund Wolfgang's career. The tale is melodramatic, dearly earnest, with many exclamatory sentences and too much emotional repetitiveness. I would have preferred that the author flesh out more of the characters in Nannerl's life and give them more independent vitality than wield them as vehicles of Nannerl's plight. The story lacks emotional tension because emotions are overbaked. When the author does modulate her prose and gives more grace to her narrative (in Nannerl's letters), I feel more fully engaged in the story. Overall, it was moderately enjoyable, but the fervid doggedness feels intermittently stale and devotional.