Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Musician's Daughter

The Musician's Daughter
Author: Susanne Dunlap
Bloomsbury USA Children's Books, 2008
336 pages

This gem of a mystery is set in eighteenth century Vienna. Theresa Maria is the teenage daughter of a violinist who works for composer Josef Haydn. When her father is mysteriously murdered on Christmas Eve, Theresa Maria does all she can to keep the family together. She takes a job as copyist for Herr Haydn, while conducting her own investigation into her father's murder. Along the way she will meet people who defy stereotypes, and others who perpetuate them. In the end, she will have her answers, but she will also have an education about people, politics, and what it means to stand for something you believe in.

Theresa Maria is a strong female in an era that was not particularly kind to females. (It wasn't lost on me that she was a namesake of Empress Maria Theresa, another strong female.) Other interesting characters in the book included a rather nasty and lewd uncle, a handsome Hungarian musician, a sympathetic and very admirable Haydn, and a band of Gypsies - a group of Roma people living on the outskirts of Vienna. 

Living in Vienna this year really helped me mentally navigate my way through the places mentioned in the book, like the Hofburg, the Danube River, and the Prater. I found myself feeling a little "homesick" for Vienna. The only thing missing was a good Vienna coffee shop - but the time had not quite come yet for that institution.

Unlike the other book I reviewed today, The Musician's Daughter got the Aunt Mariandy Seal of Approval for my niece, and I left it on the nightstand of the room we share at Gramps and Granny's house so she'll find it next time she visits.

Rating: 4.25 stars - an overall good read with some nailbiting moments.