Night Music by Jojo Moyes

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Night Music by Jojo Moyes

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Fairhead
Reviewed by Sue Fairhead
Summary: Believable characters in a moving family drama of bereavement, deception, and obsessions with an old house.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: April 2009
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
ISBN: 978-0340895962

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This is a novel about obsessions. Matt and his wife Laura are obsessed with the idea of owning Spanish House when its cantankerous and demanding owner Mr Pottisworth dies. For this reason, Laura has pandered to Mr Pottisworth for many years. She takes meals to him and endures a barrage of criticism and complaint. However, despite hinting, he has never actually promised that they will inherit his house. So it's no surprise when we learn that he has a distant relative who is in fact his heir.

Isabel, the heir, is a musician, obsessed with her violin. She's also obsessed with the memory of her recently deceased husband Laurent, whom she loved with an abiding passion. He was killed in a car accident, and has left her in debt, floundering to survive in the world of realities which, up to this point, she has mostly ignored. Her teenage daughter Kitty takes on more responsibility than she should, and her young son Thierry has retreated into a world of silence since his father died.

Most of the story takes place when Isabel and the children sell their London home and move to the old and decrepit Spanish House. Isabel slowly learns to deal with practical issues, employing Matt to repair and improve the house. Kitty makes friends in the village and becomes a more normal teenager, and Thierry is befriended by the mysterious Byron, who has a dark secret that only Matt seems to know about.

It's a story of new beginnings and friendship; a novel about relationships and the importance of family life. Isabel matures as she learns new things about herself and her family, and eventually is able to prioritise, while Matt becomes more and more obsessed, not just with the house but with Isabel herself. I found I could easily picture the main characters, and although I found Isabel somewhat frustrating in her naivety at times, I wanted everything to work out for her. I particularly wanted her to see Matt as the philandering scoundrel he was!

There are some stereotyped minor characters such as the elderly village gossip, and the helpful and thoroughly nice gay village store owners. That's OK. Stereotypes feel familiar, after all, and I knew these people would remain in character and play their parts correctly. The main characters are much more of a realistic mixture of traits, and I found Isabel's children particularly likeable.

The end of the story is highly dramatic; I might even call it melodramatic, although there were sufficient clues in the book to point towards the climax and the surprising events that followed it, had I been looking for them. The conclusion is perhaps a little too tidy, if I'm being objective, and I found one or two of the decisions made to be slightly unlikely; but I do like endings that tie up all the loose threads, so I'm not complaining.

It wasn't the kind of book that I read half the night. It took me over a week of reading in evenings to finish it, not because it was over long or particularly heavy, but because there was a fair bit of emotional upheaval and background information, and I can only take a certain amount at a time.

Overall, I very much enjoyed Night Music and will be looking out for other books by this author.

Many thanks to the publisher for sending the book.

If you like this book, you might also enjoy Blue Slipper Bay by Wendy K Harris, or Uphill All the Way by Sue Moorcroft.

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