Alice Haywood is born on an orange farm in country New South Wales. She begins playing the piano when she is three, taught by her English mother who is unhappy in Australia and in a desolate, violent marriage. When Alice is seven, her mother, desperate for her daughter to leave if she can’t, sends her to boarding school in the bleak north of England, and there Alice stays for the next ten years.
Then she’s offered a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London. That year, on a summer school in Oxford, she meets Edward, an economics professor, who sweeps her off her feet. But underneath his suave demeanor, Edward is a damaged man. He traps her into marriage and Alice is stuck, oppressed by his cruelty, in the Oxford home he has bought for her.
After a disastrous recital of Rachmaninoff’s Second Concerto, she stops playing and her dreams of becoming a concert pianist evaporate. Alice and Edward have a son, Richard, whom she adores. He too is a talented musician. But as Richard grows up he becomes more and more distant, and ultimately Alice can’t find it in herself to carry on. Then she hears the most beautiful music from the walls of her house …
This novel’s love story is that of a woman who must embrace life again if she is to survive. Inspiring and compelling, it explores the dark terrain of violence and the transformative powers of music and love.
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