Cathy from Olympia, Washington, March 24, 2009 (view all comments by Cathy from Olympia, Washington)
Set in 18th century Vienna, 15-year old Theresa Maria has been taught to play the viola-- a decidedly unladylike accomplishment in those times. Then, instead of quietly getting married to help support her family upon the violent death of her father, Theresa puts herself in grave danger in an attempt to learn why her kind, beloved father was murdered. Theresa Maria is a refreshingly strong character, and I enjoyed the book from beginning to end.
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Susan O'Doherty, January 17, 2009 (view all comments by Susan O'Doherty)
In The Musician's Daughter, Susanne Dunlap executes several difficult feats with grace and sophistication. She tells an intricate, thrilling story in language young readers can understand and follow; she portrays a strong, independent young woman who does not seem at all anachronistic in this time period; and she confronts issues of gender and social class without sounding preachy. This book is a great read, and the ending made me cry.
My fourteen-year-old son, who doesn't usually like "girl stuff," was entranced, as well.
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Melissa Fox, January 3, 2009 (view all comments by Melissa Fox)
It's late-18th-century Vienna, and Theresa Maria is the daughter of one of Prince Nicholas Esterhazy's court musicians. Her godfather is the estimable Joseph Haydn, and she thinks life is just about perfect. That is, until her father is found outside a Gypsy camp brutally murdered on Christmas Eve. Faced with a mother who's extremely pregnant and the looming responsibility of providing for the household, Theresa is not willing to be a "good" girl and let her father's murder go unsolved. She turns to Haydn for support and financial help, and, in the process, discovers her father had been leading a secret life. She embarks upon a path through many dangers in order to uncover the truth about her his death.
While not as lyrical as Dunlap's others books, it's a good combination of music and history and adventure, even if there's a bit too much running back and forth between Vienna and the gypsy camps. I did like Theresa as a character: she was willing to do what needed to be done, at any cost, even if it meant being a bit foolhardy. And it all ended okay, which is definitely a plus for this kind of book.
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"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"A mix of mystery, thriller and romance set in 18th-century Vienna, Dunlap's uneven debut YA novel begins as the body of Theresa Maria's murdered father is brought home. Though he had appeared to be simply a musician caring for his family and passing his love of music to his daughter, Theresa discovers that her father was a spy, investigating the cruelty of Hungarian lords who were persecuting the Gypsies, an intriguing set-up that is not deeply explored. Franz Josef Haydn, the real-life conductor of the orchestra where Theresa's father was a violinist, is losing his eyesight and needs Theresa, his goddaughter, to clerk for him. Like a number of other story points, this one lacks support: why would Haydn trust other musicians with the plot involving the Hungarian lords, but not trust them with the secret of his failing eyesight? While the heady setting and Theresa's determination are enjoyable, the story is a little too ambitious and gets beyond the writer's control. Ages 12 — up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
by Kirkus Reviews,
"[A] gutsy, sympathetic heroine who remains true to her friends, in a fast-paced historical adventure that offers a hint of romance."
"Readers will root for courageous Theresa through the exciting intrigue even as they absorb deeper messages about music and arts power to lift souls and inspire change."
Amid the glamour of Prince Nicholas Esterhazy's court in 18th-century Vienna, murder is afoot. Or so 15-year-old Theresa Maria thinks after her musician father turns up dead on Christmas Eve. Her father's mentor, the acclaimed composer Franz Joseph Haydn, offers her insight into her father's secret life.
Amid the glitter and glamour of musical and court life in 18th century Vienna, fifteen-year-old Theresa Maria Shurman is trying to solve a brutal mystery. Who killed her father, an acclaimed violinist, and stole his valuable Amati violin? When Haydn himself offers her a position as his assistant, it gives Theresa access to life in the palace-and to a world of deceit. Theresa uncovers blackmail and extortion even as she discovers courage and honor in unexpected places: from a Gypsy camp on the banks of the Danube, to the rarefied life of the imperial family. And she feels the stirrings of a first, tentative love for someone who is as deeply involved in the mystery as she is.
Murder and love—from the halls of Viennas imperial family to a perilous gypsy camp
Amid the glamour of Prince Nicholas Esterhazys court in 18th-century Vienna, murder is afoot. Or so fifteen-year-old Theresa Maria is convinced when her musician father turns up dead on Christmas Eve, his valuable violin missing, and the only clue to his death a strange gold pendant around his neck. Then her fathers mentor, the acclaimed composer Franz Joseph Haydn, helps her through a difficult time by making her his copyist and giving her insight in to her fathers secret life. Its there that Theresa begins to uncover a trail of blackmail and extortion, even as she discovers honor—and the possibility of a first, tentative love. Thrumming with the weeping strains of violins, as well as danger and deception, this is an engrossing tale of murder, romance, and music that readers will find hard to forget.
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