Review of Forbidden Melody by Magnolia Robbins, Audiobook narrated by Joan Dukore
This book was right up my street. I’ve been hearing great things about this novel for a while and I’m glad that I’ve decided to listen to the audiobook as I’ve absolutely loved it.
Emma Harvey is a gifted deaf pianist studying in one of the most prestigious conservatories in the US. Juliette Hamilton is the first chair at the NY Philharmonic and professor at that conservatory. Soon both women discover that they are outstanding at creating music together and that their connection goes beyond music to ignite an unstoppable passion.
There are many lesfic books about musicians but not many of them have such emphasis on the music itself. That’s what made Forbidden Melody
a fantastic listening experience in more ways than one. Each chapter of this book starts with a list of musical works that are related to the chapter’s content. I strongly suggest that you listen to them, at least excerpts as they are very related to the story. It will make your reading experience so much richer and complete. If you can’t be bothered with so much music, at least listen to Elgar’s Salut d’Amour (love letter). It’s short, beautiful, and describes Emma and Juliette’s relationship perfectly.
Some readers mentioned that this book has too many music descriptions. I don’t personally agree with that but be warned that I have a postgraduate degree in music so what’s heaven for me might be hell for others. Admittedly, the book is quite long (possibly started as fanfic) and it could have benefitted from deleting some scenes, music-related and not. However, if you are a classical music or jazz enthusiast I’m sure that you will enjoy it immensely.
Both main characters are fleshed out beautifully and their chemistry together is epic. Ms. Robbins describes both their musical and personal connection with incredible depth. As a matter of fact, all the descriptions are very photographic, so much so that the reader (or listener) can see the story develop in their mind’s eye.
This is the first audiobook that I’ve listened to by voice actor Joan Dukore who doesn’t seem to have narrated much lesfic. It’s a pity because she did a fantastic job with both diversity of voices and range of emotions. My only minor complaint is her subpar pronunciation of foreign language terms (which are a lot in music), especially French. However, the rest was flawlessly executed. It made the whole listening experience much richer. 5 stars.
Length: 11 hrs and 36 mins