Two boys are growing up in wartime London. Martin is an only child, imprisoned in swottish loneliness. Then Dovidl enters his home, a refugee violinist from Warsaw. 'I am genius,' says Dovidl. 'You have information. Together we make good team.' His arrival brings merriment and love, mischief and menace. Blood-brothers, they roam the ruined city, ...
Two boys are growing up in wartime London. Martin is an only child, imprisoned in swottish loneliness. Then Dovidl enters his home, a refugee violinist from Warsaw. 'I am genius,' says Dovidl. 'You have information. Together we make good team.' His arrival brings merriment and love, mischief and menace. Blood-brothers, they roam the ruined city, finding tragedy and triumph, sex and crime. It is the time of their lives, their finest hour. Then Dovidl disappears, on the afternoon of his international debut. Martin is broken-hearted, his father near-bankrupted, the police dumbfounded. Where has he gone? How can a genius escape his date with destiny? How could he betray a brother? Martin is condemned to forty years of humdrum half-life until, one wintry night, an unexpected musical clue sets him on the trail to an astonishing act of self-discovery, and renewal.
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Publishers Weekly, 2003-11-24 In this highly entertaining and accomplished first novel by a well-known English journalist and music critic, two men who became friends as children in London during WWII are reunited after 40 years. In 1939, nine-year-old Martin Simmonds meets Dovidl Rapoport, a violin prodigy the same age. Martin's father is a music impresario, and when Dovidl is sent by his Polish parents to study in England, he offers the boy lodging in his own home. Dovidl and Martin quickly become best friends. Dovidl's parents perish in the Holocaust; then, in 1951, Dovidl-his name changed to the more palatable Eli-is about to embark on a career as a concert virtuoso when he disappears on the day of his debut. Martin becomes obsessed with his friend's disappearance, and after decades of searching finally finds him in a dreary town in the north of England. Lebrecht's deep knowledge of music, his insights and his verbal inventiveness enliven the book (describing two awkward professors, he says they "stand out like frayed cuffs on a funeral suit"). However, the novel drags in the middle with the backstory of the two boys living through the blitz; this is material that has been presented elsewhere and in greater depth. Also, there's no real mystery in unraveling either the location or identity of Rapoport. Simmonds's supposedly epic quest ("I am consumed by thoughts of finding him") is over in less than two days, and it's a letdown for the reader not to be able to sift through tantalizing clues. These shortcomings aside, this is a confidently written and engaging first novel by a talented writer. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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