Marissa (Boca Raton FL)
Falls Short of A Symphony
This book is not what you expect. It is the story of a music teacher with a lot going on in her world but it misses the mark. The main character is Pearl, a violinist who never made it professionally . She teaches others in a small music store in Los Angeles. The story weaves back and forth between Pearl and Hallie an extremely gifted violinist that comes from a very dysfunctional family. The book captured my interest when the author stayed on the subject of the music and Hallie. Once the author strayed with other character development the meaning was lost.
Ruth, Downingtown, PA (Downingtown PA)
Too much angst
Music is a theme that runs through this book, appropriate for The Music Teacher! Its about music, but not about music. The heroine has a lot of personal issues that intertwine with the music. The book had a bit too much angst for my taste, and the writing was in choppy sentences which is a style that generally doesnt appeal to me. I finished it (luckily it was a short book), but it dragged on for a while without getting to the point. I wouldnt read it again, nor would I recommend it to a friend.
Lori (La Porte IN)
Achievement and the Definition of Self
The main character in this book, Pearl Swain, seems somewhat unlikable at first glance, self-described as the "mean music teacher." She is the survivor of failed career aspirations, a failed marriage, and seems to be largely going through the motions in her current narrow existence. But then a young, troubled musical prodigy enters Pearl's life and she begins to dream of more for herself, even if it is only through the youth and promise of others. While you may not agree with Pearl's methods or some of the choices she makes, you can't help but root for her to reclaim the music in her life.
Katherine (Albuquerque NM)
Too Many Storylines
While the author of this book has a great, breezy writing style there are too many different storylines for this short book. Her relationship with Hallie isn't developed well enough to make the conflict over Hallie quitting music or her "betrayal" very moving. I was also unclear about the need for the introduction of a second talented student that heard voices while playing the violin. The storyline of the protagonist's love life is a little more compelling, but still doesn't resolve itself in a satisfying way. Overall, I can't recommend this book.
Debbie (Grand Junction CO)
The Music Teacher
The "Music Teacher" by Barbara Hall is a wonderful exploration of mid-life. The ideas from our youth and how we not only change but prioritize events differently as we age. Pearl thinks she has her life laid out before her and is surprised to find she has to reevaluate and rethink where she is headed.
The book was very readable and I enjoyed it. I'd definitely recommend it my book friends.
Mary (Fairfax CA) (Rohnert Park CA)
fine as a bees wing
When I saw Barbara Hall's TV creditsfour of my all-time favorite showsthe bar was set high. When on page three she identified my favorite musician (RT) as Guitar God, the bar shot so high I figured it could only go down. I was wrong. The bar remained at the same high level and I couldn't stop turning the pages.
The exploration of music in general and talent in particular is fascinating and thought-provoking. There's a lot going on: the blessing/curse of an artistic gift, the responsibilities of a teacher, the responsibilities of a human. The way we care, the way we're damaged, the way we seek redemptionor not: the stories of lives. Hall is a terrific writer; every page reflects her intelligence and perception. My only major frustration was with the length of the book, or rather the lack of length. Pearl's inner life as well as her external one warrant much more attention.
A person extends herself, one of the characters says. Hall extends herself brilliantly in these pages, never shying away from hard truths. I'm certain she can extend herself a bit further and I'll be reading more of her. All in all a wonderful book that I will definitely be recommending.
Lee (Creve Coeur MO)
Not a recommend
The author seems undecided on whether to write a novel or a text book. As a consequence much of the musical information seems forced into the plot. She introduces few other characters and does not flesh them out enough for us to care about them. Which leaves the reader with one of the whiniest heroines ever written.