Monday, January 11, 2010

*Tenderwire, by Claire Kilroy

 my edition

Tenderwire is a somewhat puzzling and offbeat story of a young Irish concert violinist named Eva Tyne, who lives & works in New York with the New Amsterdam Chamber Orchestra. Eva's father, also a musician, disappeared years earlier, simply vanishing into thin air; her mother continues to live in Ireland. Eva's life changes when she is offered the chance to buy a rare Stradivarius violin by a rather shady character. The violin has no papers, has not been authenticated, nor will she be able to have it authenticated before she buys it. Her desire to own this violin takes hold of her and she has to have it. She becomes obsessed with it, but her obsession changes her life, leading her into a life of paranoia, jealousy, and uncertainty. Eva herself narrates the story, and little by little the reader watches her life go into a tailspin. 

My copy's book blurb says that this book is a literary thriller, but I don't know if I'd label it as such. It's very different -- it's a bit of a puzzle, and it seems like whenever you think you've got a handle on things something new is revealed. The characters are more than just cardboard cutouts, especially Eva. The book is actually quite suspenseful, because you don't have any idea what's going to happen next, which makes this story a change away from the formulaic and predictable.  But its difference might cause problems for some readers -- this is definitely not a book directed at a mass-market kind of readership. My only problem was near the end, when something was revealed that I thought maybe should have been made known somewhat earlier. Oh well. You can't have it all.

The writing is excellent, and I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Irish fiction or perhaps to people looking for something a bit dark, edgy and different, while at the same time highly intelligent.  I couldn't put this one down once I'd picked it up.

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