Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Andreï Makine – A Life’s Music

Title: A Life’s Music
Author: Andreï Makine

ISBN # 0340820098

Publisher: Sceptre

First Published: 2001

106 pages

Format: Paperback

Rating: 6/10

(Olympic Challenge - Russia)

Alexei Berg's father is a well-known dramatist and his mother an opera singer, but in late 1930s
Russia both parents suffer constant suspicion and harassment under Stalin's reign of terror. So great is Alexei's musical talent that he is allowed to continue his studies, but two days before his first concert in May 1941, he arrives home to find his parents being arrested. He flees, abandoning his budding career as a concert pianist, and assumes the identity of a dead Russian conscript to fight against the advancing Germans. When the war is over he stays on as a general's driver, continuing to keep his real identity hidden until a moment of folly reveals the truth and earns him 10 years in a prison camp. But despite a life of misfortune, Alexei remains unbroken, and in a snowbound railway station in the middle of the Urals, he tells his story.

I'm not awfully sure about this one. It's only a very short book and by the time I was almost 1/3rd of the way through, I just wasn’t gelling with it. However, I persevered - I did go ahead and finish it, but only because it was such a short novella, not because it really grabbed me at all.

It felt like it had such potential, but even though it was set during WWII, it lacked much of the action you'd expect and also seemed devoid of any passion, which is surprising, considering it's about a musician who has to hide who he is to escape persecution and imprisonment. It certainly didn't inspire me to try any other of Makine's work, but it wasn't completely off-putting. I just felt that it paled considerably when compared with the likes of The Secret Purposes by David Baddiel. A very average read, but one that will keep you occupied over a lunch hour if you’re looking for something to fill the time.


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