American Music 

VINTAGE 2011



AMERICAN MUSIC
 

The celebrated author of I Was Amelia Earhart brings us a brilliant, kaleidoscopic story of human connection that soars with imagination, spirit, and Mendelsohn’s distinctive mesmerizing style.

Honor is a physical therapist with a mysterious patient in Milo, the Iraq war veteran whose destroyed back is the only testament to his emotional scars. When Honor touches him, she and Milo are overwhelmed by startling visions of the past: Of 1930s New York, where a young marriage is tested by the arrival of an intriguing cousin; of a female photographer whose life’s work is irrevocably stolen; of a young mother determined to make it on her own; and of 17th-century Turkey, where the forbidden love affair of a eunuch and the sultan’s concubine threatens a tragic end. As the stories converge in a crescendo of revelations, they bring Honor and Milo closer to healing and understanding. A breathtaking mystery and meditation on love—its power and its limitations—American Music is a compassionate and wondrous novel.

PRAISE and REVIEWS

“Redefines the genre…. Exacting, moving, devastating, American Music is a story told in dazzling images…. How can something so slim cover so much ground? This breadth is achieved through a series of haunting impressions  that trace the story of a family, the history of 20th-century America, and the evolution of American music . . .  Although we meet these characters  hastily, we come to know them well. It is a testament to Mendelsohn’s skill that she can decode a lifetime in an image.”
—Jennifer Gilmore, The New York Times Book Review
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“Unpretentious, moving, intelligent, and fresh . . . An inventive, passionate, pithy novel whose major theme is love itself and whose minor theme, music, is an emotional, meaningful counterpoint.  Like Count Basie and His Orchestra, this book swings.”
—Kate Christensen, Elle Magazine lead review
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“Stories appear in all their glorious detail—bits of sparkling fabric, pieces of song, a whirling dance, a white sky and a black sea.   Jane Mendelsohn captures them as you might in the glare of an old-fashioned light bulb . .  . Milo and Honor fall in love.    Love is the mirage they step into, leaving behind all kinds of wounds and stories.  It is an aleph of a novel, a keyhole one looks into and cannot pull away from.”
—Susan Salter Reynolds, The Los Angeles Times
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“A novel about the power of stories… What a captivating storyteller Mendelsohn can be. She’s remarkably good at setting scenes quickly and evocatively, raising up characters we care about immediately and drawing us into their conflicts…. A romantic story of romantic stories, full of love and longing, despair and loneliness, and one woman’s connection to all of them…. [Mendelsohn] writes the kind of lovely, wise phrases that will have you underlining passages.”
—Ron Charles, The Washington Post
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“Luminous . . . [a] relationship between a wounded Iraq War veteran and his physical therapist releases a torrent of memories, dreams, and alternate lives . . . a magically consoling reminder that beneath the starkest cases of wounding and healing is the music of love lost and found.”
Kirkus
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“In her exquisite, psychologically fluent novels, the actual and imagined merge as Mendelsohn tests the power of stories to define, guide, and sometimes destroy us. Her third novel is an intricate puzzle of haunting, far-reaching, secretly connected love stories. . . Each milieu is sensuously rendered, while music, especially jazz, serves as the unifying force, and the key to surviving epic desire and loss.”
—Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
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“Jane Mendelsohn’s American Music, a beautiful, bittersweet novel…. More characters mysteriously emerge: a jazz lover choosing between two women; a sultan’s concubine falling for her guard. Honor’s touch, meant to heal Milo, frees the stories locked within him. As the two try to understand these images, they discover that what we keep inside has the power to break us — but also to break us open.”
O, The Oprah Magazine
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“Beautifully rendered…. [Joe, Pearl, and Vivian’s] story is a heartbreaker, stark in its reality…. Powerful… Hard to forget.”
The Providence Journal
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“As in her earlier novel, I Was Amelia Earhart, Jane Mendelsohn proves a master of historical context: American history itself is as much a character as those who live and die through it.”
The Courier (Charleston)
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“There are hidden universes within us, Jane Mendelsohn tells us in her strange and bittersweet story about fate and love. How we fit into the rhythm of such places and how we allow our pasts to shape the present, are the intriguing themes of her haunting new book.”
The Miami Herald
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“Jane Mendelsohn has produced a taut, sui generis story that should be a major contender for novel of the year… Brilliant, stunning and divinely thought-provoking.”
Sacramento Book Review
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“’A soldier’s body is a work of art that contains his country’s history.’” So thinks the heroine of this luminous novel, a physical therapist named Honor….. Intricately plotted and affectingly written, American Music … [is] a piercing, magical revelation about the capricious power of disclosed truths to lift us up or take us down.”
—Boston Globe
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“Haunting, mystical and beautiful, American Music is written in a uniquely creative style gar poignantly and powerfully touches the reader contemplating the gift of music in an American period of history yearning for recovery and renewal.”
Historical Novels Review
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“Like Honor and Milo, the reader is eager to find out what happens and how these seemingly unrelated stories connect. This intriguing book will be particularly appealing to readers with vivid imaginations who are open to a more innovative narrative style.”
Library Journal
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American Music is like Gabriel Garcia Marquez meets the very best parts of The Time Traveler’s Wife, and for readers who savor language and enjoy surrealism, it doesn’t get much better. 5 out of 5.”
—The Book Lady’s Blog
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