by Sukey HowardAugust, 1999
A total change of pace . . . Some audio presentations improve on their written antecedents; sometimes a bit of abridgment enhances rather than detracts; and musical segues, even as punctuation, add intensity. This couldn't be more true of Vikram Seth's newest novel, An Equal Music (6 hours). When I read the mildly chastising reviews of the book, I wanted to tell would-be readers to listen instead to Alan Bates's affecting performance of it. The audio version of this love story is as intense and impassioned as the music its protagonists make. Michael, a violinist in a London quartet, fell in love with Julia, a pianist, when they were students in Vienna. They'd parted abruptly and not seen each other for years; then he spots her on a bus and the duet of their lives begins again. Seth captures their shared devotion to music and evokes the life and world of classical musicians, to me as fascinating as the unfolding of Michael and Julia's perilous relationship. If you find music to be the food of love, you'll find much to feed on here.