Book Review: The Music Lesson

Book Review: The Music Lesson | Newbery and Beyond

Well.  First of all, I picked up this book, not knowing anything about it, solely based on the title, The Music Lesson.  It became clear immediately that this book isn’t actually about music lessons of any kind.  Instead, it’s about a Vermeer painting called The Music Lesson.  Okay, I thought.  This could still be good.  I like Vermeer’s paintings.  I like learning about other countries (the book is set in Ireland).  So I checked it out of my library.

The plot follows Patricia Dolan, an American with deep Irish roots.  She has moved temporarily to Ireland because she has been involved in the theft of one of Vermeer’s paintings.  When Mickey, supposedly a long-lost Irish cousin, comes to town asking for help, Patricia immediately agrees.  She falls in love with Mickey, and eventually uses her expertise as an art historian/researcher to help Mickey and some of his Irish friends steal the Vermeer painting.  It turns out that Mickey and his friends are part of the IRA, and the theft was supposed to be a snub toward the British.  I admit that I don’t know all the details of the British/Irish conflict, and this book relies heavily on them–maybe that’s part of why I didn’t get much out of this book?

The reviews on the back of the book claim that this story will explore the darkness of obsession, but honestly?  It was kind of boring.  It’s written as Patricia’s confession, a journal that she hides carefully for later readers to find, and it is boring.  There is one twist at the end that I didn’t see coming, involving the final fate of the painting, but for the most part, there wasn’t much to it.  There was no real mystery, since you begin the book knowing that she helped steal the painting, and you know that the two reasons she did are A: she’s Irish, and B: she fell in love with Mickey, the guy in charge of the heist, and there really isn’t much art history in the book either.  The writing itself is good; I really enjoyed the descriptions of the blustery, foggy Irish weather and the inhabitants of the village where Patricia is staying.  Still, Patricia hid herself from the villagers–she had just committed a crime, remember?  So even the human interaction parts of the book come mostly through Patricia’s remembrances of her earlier life.  Sure, sad things happened to her in the past, but she relates them so blandly–so numbly–that I never really felt sad for her.  I just felt annoyed with her for getting so wrapped up in getting physical with Mickey that she was totally caught off guard when he wasn’t all he had said he was.  Whatever, Patricia.

Rating: Skip This One

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