Playing With Fire Tess Gerritsen
Julia is a musician; she has a successful Husband who loves her, and a beautiful three-year-old daughter who she dotes over. Life is pretty much perfect.
The book starts with Julia buying a book of Gypsy Music whilst on a trip to Rome. Within its pages she finds an original piece of music by an unknown composer. Reading the music and playing it in her head Julia finds it complicated but beautiful.
When Julia arrives home she plays the piece for the first time she waits till her three year old daughter Lily is playing quietly by herself, before taking out her violin and playing the piece. As she reaches the end of the piece her daughter comes running into the room covered in blood and holding a gardening fork. From that point on Julia’s life changes; the relationship with her family is affected by her thoughts and at the centre of it all that piece of music: Incendio.
In Julia’s attempts to discover the origins of the music another story unfolds and the reader is transported to 1930’s Italy where a young musician, Lorenzo, is given his grandfathers violin and asked to take part in a duet competition with a young lady he has never met before. They are from different backgrounds and would never have met if it wasn’t for the music, but there blooming relationship has one major problem. Lorenzo and his family are Jewish and the Italian Fascists are beginning to act like their German allies and alienate the Jews. The young lady and her family try to warn Lorenzo’s family of the change in attitudes towards the Jewish community and convince them to escape before they are interned and transported to Poland with the rest of the Jews caught up in the horrors of Hitler and Mussolini’s reign.
The 2 stories play out through the book. Lorenzo experiences in Europe during the 1930’s and 1940’s. Julia’s fight to prove her own sanity in America in the 21st Century.
Eventually the two stories inevitably come together in a spine tingling conclusion to a story that, at times, made the hair on my arms stand up.
It is very hard to do this book justice without giving away too much of the plot. As a rule I usually am happy to comment on anything that happens in the first half of a book but nothing in the second, to avoid the dreaded spoilers. I could happily write about this book all day but that would just ruin it for everybody else, and everybody should read this.
Whilst I was reading the book I had in my head the haunting violin piece from the film Shindler’s List. My daughter is a good violinist and I have seen her reduce people to tears playing that piece, and there is the obvious connection between the film and this story.
Then I discovered that Tess Gerritsen has composed a piece of music, Incendio, and had it recorded by one of the top violinists in the world. I had it playing whilst I wrote this blog. Just as it is described in the book it is a beautifully haunting waltz with a tumultuous finale.
So I guess this is not only a book review but in a way my first music review.
All I can say is both are 10/10. I loved the book, I loved the music. What a talented woman
Thank You Tess Gerritsen