by Weber, Katharine
Patricia Dolan defines herself by her job as an art historian and her identity as an Irish American. When she is 41, the combination of the two proves explosive, leading her to a rough cottage in West Cork. In Ireland she has for company only her own words, one elderly neighbor, and "The Music Lesson," a beautiful Vermeer executed on wood. As she anticipates the arrival of Mickey, her distant relative and lover, Patricia slowly, tantalizingly reveals the events that have led to her isolation. Before Mickey had appeared one day outside her office at New York's Frick Museum, she had become inured to loss and death, a high-functioning depressive. But her 25-year-old third cousin once removed reawakens her. Alas, his interest is both personal and political, and she is soon involved in a plot to kidnap and ransom the Vermeer, property of the Queen. The painting, she tells herself fervently, "is an instrument of magic. Perhaps now it is also an instrument of change, a talisman, the charm that will force powerful people to pay attention and take decisive action at last."
The Music Lesson is far from your everyday, action-packed IRA saga. Instead, Katharine Weber's second novel is very much like the intimate portrait her heroine so lovingly describes--an exquisite miniature in which images, ideas, and deep emotions keep coming out of the woodwork. --Kerry Fried