The Music Lesson by Katharine Weber

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"She's beautiful," writes Irish-American art historian Patricia Dolan in the first of the journal entries that form The Music Lesson. "I look at my face in the mirror and it seems far away, less real than hers."  

The woman she describes is the subject of the stolen Vermeer of the novel's title. Patricia is alone with this exquisite painting in a remote Irish cottage by the sea. How she arrived in such an unlikely circumstance is one part of the story Patricia tells us: about her father, a policeman who raised her to believe deeply in the cause of a united Ireland; the art history career that has sustained her since the numbing loss of her daughter; and the arrival of Mickey O'Driscoll, her dangerously charming, young Irish cousin, which has led to her involvement in this high-stakes crime.
How her sublime vigil becomes a tale of loss, regret, and transformation is the rest of her story. The silent woman in the priceless painting becomes, for Patricia, a tabula rasa, a presence that at different moments seems to judge, to approve, or to offer wisdom. As Patricia immerses herself in the turbulent passions of her Irish heritage and ponders her aesthetic fidelity to the serene and understated pleasures of Dutch art, she discovers, in her silent communion, a growing awareness of all that has been hidden beneath the surface of her own life. And she discovers that she possesses the knowledge of what she must do to preserve the things she values most.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Katharine Weber

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Katharine Weber is the author of the novels True Confections, Triangle, The Little Women, The Music Lesson, and Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, the cultural historian Nicholas Fox Weber.
Published October 19, 2011 by Crown. 192 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, History, Action & Adventure. Fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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New York art historian Patricia Dolan is so swept away by the distant Irish cousin, Michael O'Driscoll, who seeks her out for her expertise but quickly becomes her lover, that in no time she is living in a remote cottage on the west coast of Ireland and is part of an IRA-inspired plot to kidnap a...

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Entertainment Weekly

Awaiting orders from the IRA in a cottage on Ireland's west coast, 40ish American art historian Patricia Dolan has only Vermeer's luminous masterpiece The Music Lesson for company — a painting recently stolen from Buckingham Palace by her terrorist lover for a cash ransom.

Mar 05 1999 | Read Full Review of The Music Lesson

London Review of Books

In his review of my novel The Music Lesson (LRB, 15 April), Theo Tait criticises my depiction of the dramatic actions of an IRA splinter group on the grounds that ‘the fit with contemporary Irish politics’ is ‘offensively loose’, adding that in the late Nineties the narrator’s aim – ‘to force pow...

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