The Conductor by Sarah Quigley

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Most readers will know the outcome; many will also know that after the war Eliasberg did not go on to brighter things but had an equally miserable time under Stalin.
-Guardian

Synopsis

Longlisted for the 2013 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and shortlisted for the 2013 Prix Femina, this cinematic and beautifully written novel tells a compelling story about music, survival, friendship and love set against the backdrop of a fierce Russian winter and the Second World WarJune 1941: Nazi troops surround the city of Leningrad, planning to shell and starve its people into submission. Most of the cultural elite are evacuated, but the famous composer Shostakovich stays behind to defend his city. That winter, the bleakest in Russian history, the Party orders Karl Eliasberg, the shy, difficult conductor of a second-rate orchestra, to prepare for the task of a lifetime. He is to organize a performance of Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony, a haunting, defiant new piece that will be relayed by loudspeakers to the front lines.Eliasberg's musicians are starving and scarcely have the strength to carry their instruments, but for five freezing months the conductor stubbornly drives them on, depriving those who falter of their bread rations. Slowly the music begins to dissolve the nagging hunger, the exploding streets, the slow deaths . . . but at what cost? Eliasberg's relationships are strained, obsession takes hold and his orchestra grows weaker. Soon, they are struggling not just to perform but to stay alive.
 

About Sarah Quigley

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Sarah Quigley is a New Zealand-born novelist, poet and critic. She has a D.Phil. in Literature from the University of Oxford, and has won several awards for her writing. Since winning the Creative New Zealand Berlin Writers Residency in 2000, Quigley has been based in Berlin.
 
Published January 1, 2012 by Head of Zeus.
Genres: History, War, Literature & Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs, Business & Economics, Self Help, Travel, Romance, Parenting & Relationships. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Conductor
All: 2 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 1

Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Bella Bathurst on Jul 14 2012

Most readers will know the outcome; many will also know that after the war Eliasberg did not go on to brighter things but had an equally miserable time under Stalin.

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Toronto Star

Good
Reviewed by Nancy Wigston on Dec 28 2012

Classical music, wintry Russia, an inhuman siege: with these ingredients Quigley creates her own heroic symphony.

Read Full Review of The Conductor | See more reviews from Toronto Star

Reader Rating for The Conductor
90%

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