A Reckoning: read a sample chapter from Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

A Reckoning: read a sample chapter from Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

Start reading here

Neuroscientist and bestselling novelist, Lisa Genova, has a knack for writing about medical dramas in a way that draws you deep into the characters’ lives and makes you care about them.

This talent, first on display in her brilliant debut, Still Alice, since made into a hit movie, is on show again in Genova’s fifth and latest novel, Every Note Played. The story of a celebrated concert pianist struck down in his prime, it blends fascinating medical detail (she doesn’t pull any punches) with the deeply human story of the lives and relationships drawn into its force field, like a rose unfolding in a bramble patch.

Anyone who’s ever had to confront the drama of major illness, will find a lot to relate to in this terrific book. The way normal life comes to a complete halt. The need to set up a support network. Having to deal with family politics and siblings – estranged or not. The need to say things that may have never been said out loud before. The reckoning that comes with a medical crisis. It’s all there in Every Note Played

Thankfully, while love and resentment and other emotions swirl about whirlpool-like, there’s not a whiff of sentimentality. Every Note Played is the opposite: clear-eyed, honest, never shying away from the heavy lifting required to look after a loved one or from the failings of its characters, but you understand them. Most charming is hired carer Bill, who is an absolute darling.

Richard is 45 and at the peak of a brilliant career when he is cruelly diagnosed with ASL, or, Motor Neurone as you might know it better. He’s a genius musician, arrogant and self-absorbed. Driven by his passion and soaring talent, he’s sacrificed his family for his career, choosing the adulation of thousands over the love of a few. At the time of diagnosis, he has been divorced for three years.

People usually die from Motor Neurone within 3-5 years of being diagnosed (Stephen Hawking was an exception. Former Australian AFL star, Neil Daniher, is another high-profile sufferer who has shone a light on the debilitating condition). With Richard, the first symptoms show up in his hands and arms, meaning the first thing he loses is his first true and probably greatest, love – the ability to play the piano.

Once she has witnessed Richard’s declining condition and understood he is unable to live by himself any longer, Karina, Richard’s ex, makes the extraordinary decision to become his carer, albeit reluctantly, and he moves back into the marital home.

Karina is stuck in an unfulfilling life as a music teacher. She too showed great promise as a talented young pianist but lost herself and her dreams along the way, blaming motherhood and her marriage. Besides, with Richard sucking up all the oxygen, there was only ever room for one star in the family.

Gradually, as the medical crisis grows, the lives of Richard and Karina and their relationship, from red hot young love to two people relieved to be rid of one another, unfolds. We learn about their families, their backgrounds, their mistakes and their deceptions – of both self and others. Not everything is as it appears. Richard regrets the way his career shut down his wife’s and the way he allowed it to alienate their daughter, Grace.

Karina couldn’t bear even the thought of being separated from Grace when she was young, of ‘missing any milestone… of this enormous, precious love, this gift.’ Whereas Richard was always away touring, just like his own distant father. Has he done irreparable damage to his relationship with his daughter whom, despite appearances, he truly loves?

There’s a lot for this family to come to terms with and in a strange way, illness becomes a gift, a path to redemption by giving everyone in the family the opportunity to dispense with blame and the need to be right, to own up to mistakes, to ask for forgiveness and to forgive.

That way, comes love.

About the Author

It’s hard to believe that Lisa Genova had to self-publish Still Alice, the debut that turned into global hit and then sell it out of the boot of her car. ‘Surreal,’ is how the author described to USA Today, her dizzying success from such humble beginnings.

Acclaimed as the Oliver Sacks of fiction and the Michael Crichton of brain science, Lisa Genova other books include Left NeglectedLove Anthony, and Inside the O’Briens. Still Alice was adapted into an Oscar-winning film starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, and Kristen Stewart. Lisa graduated valedictorian from Bates College with a degree in biopsychology and holds a PhD in neuroscience from Harvard University. She travels worldwide speaking about the neurological diseases she writes about and has appeared on The Dr. OzShow, TodayPBS NewsHour, CNN, and NPR. Her TED talk, What You Can Do To Prevent Alzheimer’s, has been viewed over 2 million times. 

Interesting footnote: Every Note Played partly owes its origins to Still Alice. Richard Glatzer, co-writer and director of the cinema version of Still Alice, was suffering from Motor Neurone during the making of the movie.

Purchase a copy of Every Note Played

Related Articles

Why one writer decided to change her pen name: by Catherine Isaac

News

23 May 2018

Why one writer decided to change her pen name: by Catherine Isaac

    Start reading now: You Me Everything by Catherine Isaac

    News

    22 May 2018

    Start reading now: You Me Everything by Catherine Isaac

      Love, Joy and Cheating Hearts: a review of You, Me, Everything by Catherine Isaac

      News

      22 May 2018

      Love, Joy and Cheating Hearts: a review of You, Me, Everything by Catherine Isaac

        A New Crime-Buster is Born: review of The Greater Good by Tim Ayliffe

        News

        15 May 2018

        A New Crime-Buster is Born: review of The Greater Good by Tim Ayliffe

          The secret messages woven into shawls: words by Lauren Chater

          News

          24 April 2018

          The secret messages woven into shawls: words by Lauren Chater

            Dangerous Times: start reading The Lace Weaver by Lauren Chater

            News

            24 April 2018

            Dangerous Times: start reading The Lace Weaver by Lauren Chater

              Life, Liberty and Love: review of The Lace Weaver by Lauren Chater

              News

              23 April 2018

              Life, Liberty and Love: review of The Lace Weaver by Lauren Chater

                Searing Must-Read: Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

                News

                17 April 2018

                Searing Must-Read: Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

                  High Society: read a sample chapter from Mrs by Caitlin Macy

                  News

                  13 March 2018

                  High Society: read a sample chapter from Mrs by Caitlin Macy

                    Manhattan Tales: check out our Book of the Week Mrs by Caitlin Macy

                    News

                    13 March 2018

                    Manhattan Tales: check out our Book of the Week Mrs by Caitlin Macy

                      Publisher details

                      Every Note Played
                      Author
                      Lisa Genova
                      Publisher
                      Simon and Schuster
                      Genre
                      Fiction
                      Released
                      01 April, 2018

                      Synopsis

                      From the bestselling author of Still Alice comes a powerful and heartbreakingly moving exploration of regret, forgiveness, freedom – and what it means to be alive.An accomplished concert pianist, Richard’s inspired performances received standing ovations from audiences all over the world. Every one of his fingers was a finely calibrated instrument, dancing across the keys and striking each note with exacting precision. That was eight months ago.Richard now has ALS, and his entire right arm is paralysed. His fingers are impotent, still, devoid of possibility. The loss of his hand feels like a death, a loss of true love, a divorce – his divorce.Three years ago, Karina removed their framed wedding picture from the living room wall and hung a mirror there instead. But she still hasn’t moved on. Karina is paralysed by excuses and fear, stuck in an unfulfilling life as a piano teacher, afraid to pursue the path she abandoned as a young woman, blaming Richard and their failed marriage for all of it.When Richard is no longer able to live on his own, Karina becomes his reluctant caretaker. As Richard’s muscles, voice, and breath fade, both he and Karina try to reconcile their past before it’s too late.

                      Publisher details

                      Still Alice
                      Author
                      Lisa Genova
                      Publisher
                      Simon and Schuster
                      Genre
                      Fiction
                      Released
                      01 January, 2009

                      Synopsis

                      In Lisa Genova’s extraordinary New York Times bestselling novel, an accomplished woman slowly loses her thoughts and memories to Alzheimer’s disease—only to discover that each day brings a new way of living and loving.Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children and a house on the Cape, is a celebrated Harvard professor at the height of her career when she notices a forgetfulness creeping into her life. As confusion starts to cloud her thinking and her memory begins to fail her, she receives a devastating diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Fiercely independent, Alice struggles to maintain her lifestyle and live in the moment, even as her sense of self is being stripped away. In turns heartbreaking, inspiring, and terrifying, Still Alice captures in remarkable detail what it’s like to literally lose your mind...
                      #36 in Australia's Top 100 2016
                      Lisa Genova
                      About the author

                      Lisa Genova

                      Lisa Genova is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Love Anthony, Left Neglected, and Still Alice. Lisa graduated valedictorian from Bates College with a degree in biopsychology and holds a PhD in neuroscience from Harvard University. She travels worldwide speaking about Alzheimer's Disease, traumatic brain injury, and autism. She lives with her family in Massachusetts.

                      Books by Lisa Genova

                      COMMENTS

                      Leave a Reply

                      Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *