Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Book Review: The Other La Bohème by Yorker Keith

Title: The Other La Bohème
Author: Yorker Keith
Publisher: BookBaby
Publication Date: 15 April 2017
Pages: 366
Format: EBook - PDF
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: ARC via NetGalley

The Other La Bohème is literary fiction that depicts the lives and loves of four friends who pursue opera singers’ careers in present-day New York City. Jennifer (soprano), Stephanie (mezzo-soprano), Henry (tenor), and John (baritone) met in music school in Manhattan, where they performed Puccini’s famous opera La Bohème at their graduation concert. After graduation they banded together as a group called the Dolci Quattro, pledging to support one another in their professional pursuits. Several years later, they have landed the roles of Mimi, Musette, Marcello, and Rodolfo in the nearly forgotten opera La Bohème by Leoncavallo—known as “the other La Bohème”—which is to be produced by the New York Bel Canto Opera.

As the story unfolds, Jennifer discovers that her fiancé, Richard, an investment banker and a fiction writer, is having an affair with another woman. Stephanie struggles to find a steady love, while perturbed by a strained relationship with her father, a billionaire hedge fund manager, who abandoned her late mother. Henry faces a pressure from his family to renounce his bohemian life for a more respectful career as he meets his new love, Christine, a poet. John receives a summons for divorce from the lawyer of his wife Michelle, a painter.

Set in the rich artistic backdrop of New York City, the Dolci Quattro’s lives and loves go through ups and downs in joy and despair, while true to their pledge they give one another much-needed moral support. As the opening night nears, the Dolci Quattro make their utmost efforts to perfect their singing for the opera that will determine their future.
(Goodreads Synopsis)

There were many things I liked about The Other La Bohème: the depiction of the lives of struggling opera singers, the information on Leoncavallo's opera (of which I'd never heard until now) and the clever blending of the lives of the singers with the characters they are about to portray. However, there were also a few things that bugged me: the dialogue, which sometimes felt stilted/unnatural, and the constant need to describe characters' appearance and clothing, even when neither had any bearing on the action taking place. Overall, it was an enjoyable read, and it has certainly made me want to check out Leoncavallo's opera, but I never really established a deep connection with any of the characters to truly care about what happened to them.

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