Thursday, June 13, 2013

Review: Sight Reading

Sight Reading: A Novel
By Daphne Kalotay
Harper Collins 2013
352 pages
ARC from the publisher 

Sight Reading: A Novel

One warm spring day, Hazel spots Remy on the street. She hasn't seen her in years, but they have a connection that will last forever - Remy is now married to Hazel's former husband. Sight Reading is the story of Hazel, an artist; Remy, a violinist; and Nicholas, a composer and conductor; and the ways in which they inspire and hurt each other.

Kalotay brilliantly creates realistic characters and relationships. In another author's hands, the story of a handsome and charismatic musician who is attracted to someone young and talented in his field while his devoted wife waits for him to come home would be cliche and tired. But Remy and Hazel really give this story a new face as we see them moving in opposite directions. Hazel begins as the faithful wife who takes care of the family. When her marriage falls apart, she has to become comfortable with herself again and search for happiness on her own terms. Conversely, Remy begins this book as a young woman focused on herself, her own career, and her own desires. As the story progresses, she must learn to consider the needs and desires of her new family in tandem with her own.

Music and art are woven through every chapter of this novel. The characters struggle with what it means to make art and what it means to be a success and a failure. One of the most interesting parts of the story is watching two artists try to hold together a relationship and their commitment to their work. In Hazel and Nicholas' marriage, we watch Hazel set her art aside in order to follow Nicholas around the world and take care of their daughter. Nicholas' best friend and colleague Yoni feels threatened by Nicholas' success. Remy and Nicholas both wonder if they can live with being good, but not achieving the success that they expected to find.

This is a great book with interesting characters and lovely writing. This book may be especially insightful for those readers who know what it is like to agonize over a single brushstroke or to rehearse a line of music until it is perfect. But sight reading, or playing a piece of music without rehearsal, speaks to all of us if we are willing to stop planning out our lives and just live.

To the ladies and gents of the FTC: I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

You can find my review of Kalotay's debut novel Russian Winter here


  1. Ooh, this really does sound lovely :) I think you've made me add another book to my wishlist!

    1. It is a good read. I love how Kalotay really inhabits specific worlds (dance, music) but her stories are so universal.

  2. This sounds awesome - I'm a musician so the balance between such a time consuming career and a personal life is a struggle that's near and dear to my heart.