Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Review: The Ensemble

The Van Ness quartet is on the brink of success. They have given their graduation recital and are off to the Esterhazy competition. If they do well, they will have no problem finding places to perform and patrons to support their music. Henry is a young viola prodigy, Jana is the brash and determined violinist, Daniel is the cellist and works hard as the oldest member, and Brit is the shy second violinist who desperately wants to feel like she belongs. Each one has the potential to destroy everything they have been working to achieve. The Ensemble follows the four musicians as they achieve success, suffer personal tragedies, and discover if there is a place in their lives for these friends with or without music.

Aja Gabel has done an excellent job crafting a story that is specifically about music, but is about relationships at its core. This unique set-up ensures that Henry, Jana, Daniel, and Brit have to be in each other's lives for better or for worse. While many of us experience this kind of closeness when we live and study and work with people during college, their music career forces our ensemble to maintain this closeness for decades and gives readers the chance to see the answers to tough questions. Is it better to date someone you work with or pine for them instead? How do you find the balance between your relationship with your family at home and your work family? Is it possible to put personal disagreements aside for the good of your work?

When an author chooses to tell a story from multiple viewpoints, you often end up liking some characters more than others. The wonderful thing here is that you truly witness each character grow and change; by the end of the story, they are very different people from the confident students you met in the first chapter. The Ensemble deserves every bit of praise it received and I am anxiously waiting for Aja Gabel to bring us new characters to enjoy. 

The Ensemble
By Aja Gabel
Riverhead May 2018
352 pages
From the library

1 comment:

  1. This one sounds like fun. I like the whole music tie-in. And when it's done well, I don't mind multiple POVs. :)

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