August Blue

Farrar. Jun. 2023. 208p. ISBN 9780374602048. $27. F
Shortly before she flamed out in Vienna while performing Rachmaninoff, concert pianist Elsa M. Anderson dyed her hair a shocking blue. At the time of this fiasco, Elsa was an international star with countless recordings to her name. Now with her stalled career, her fading blue hair, and a mystery woman popping up in various places, she traipses around Europe, picking up occasional gigs teaching music to talented youngsters. A former child prodigy herself, Elsa was adopted at the age of six by Arthur Goldstein, a renowned maestro who recognized her talent and nurtured it by somewhat tyrannical methods. With the pandemic still hovering, she has resisted any attempt to visit him in Sardinia. A question of identity has haunted Elsa all her life, but it isn’t until she learns Arthur may be dying that she flies off to see him and to finally confront her past.
VERDICT Twice nominated for the Booker Prize and admired for her inventive fiction, Levy (Real Estate; The Man Who Saw Everything) typically writes challenging books that appeal to fans of the work of Rachel Cusk and Ali Smith. Her latest, a more conventional novel, is well told and affecting.
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