Dear Reader, if you are not comfortable with interracial sex and exhibitionism in general then you might not really enjoy this book. However, for “all y’all” connoisseurs of steamy and well-written sex scenes, Save the Last Dance and, above all, a happy-ending-against-all-odds – you’re in for a treat.
The story is narrated by Charlotte, a talented cellist attending the prestigious Farrington Academy for the Performing Arts in New York. She’s your stereotypical uptown girl: blond, petite and living in a luxurious apartment in Manhattan. She’s also painfully shy but far from whimsical. Since she is the narrator of the story we get to see her, perhaps slightly naive view of the world, yet observed with a keen eye and a brilliant sense of humour. Her comments on the artistic world were fabulous, especially her tutorial on how to carry a cello in New York cracked me right up: “There are several ways to carry a cello, none of them very graceful. You can strap it to your back, which makes you look like a midget with a guitar. You can hold it in front of you in both arms, which makes you look like you’re doing the tango with a fat person. Or you can carry it down by your side in one hand, which unless you are a basketball player means it scrapes along the ground. The best way of carrying a cello in this: in a car.” Knowing a couple of cellist and souble-bassists I could really appreciate the humourous and sadly truthful aspect of it.
During a charity concert in Central Park she meets Saul, a downtown rapper from the Bronx. And the minute their eyes meet her orderly and, perhaps, slightly boring world comes to a halting stop. The attraction is instantaneous: two people from entirely different walks of life crash together, smitten, and for a brief moment blissfully unaware of the outside world. And a heartbeat later they’re making music together, communicating on a different level, her shyness all forgotten in the maelstrom of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Paganini Variations and Saul’s rapping libretto. As a reader you feel drawn by the cheering crowd, watching from the sidelines the explosive interplay between two musicians; yet, in the same time, having an intimate insight into Charlotte’s inner thoughts and feelings. Her passion for playing and the growing excitement to Saul’s cheeky and daring lyrics dimms the ever-present fear leaving in its wake a bone-deep awareness. The initial “spark” quickly transforms into an inferno plunging the two characters into the unknown. Will they dare? Will they have enough strength to overcome their differences? Will they risk a relationship in a world where everyone is against them?
Through first couple of meetings with Saul, Charlotte is engrossed in propriety and the paranoid about the race equality. She reads every adversary reaction to her and Saul as an attack towards their different heritage. She’s tired of being a good girl and wonders whether being with Saul is not her version of mutiny against the rules of a society in which she grew up in. Some of you might find it petty and silly, Charlotte being the ultimate ninny. However I find her inner monologue truly endearing and somehow true. Because I can picture her leading a sheltered life, mingling with people from her own breeding, suddenly plunged into the heart of the Bronx, completely unprepared, her knowledge flaky and based on what she’d seen on telly. However, somewhere along the way she understands that she loves him, and she’ll have to work hard to make it work. Not because they are from different backgrounds, but because a union between a man and a woman is filled with obstacles. As her teacher puts it simply and pointedly: “If you are going to break up it’s not because of class. […] But because you are a woman and he is a man”. And I think that from this point onwards Charlotte starts to grow up and take a more down-to-earth attitude towards her relationship with Saul.
I suppose what I liked about the book is that it’s not really about the race conflict. It is as if Miss Korval left most of the ethical and sociological discussions to other authors and other books. In “Music” the racial differences are merely a backdrop to this deliciously steamy love story about two untainted and untamed souls coming together against all odds. It’s a story about the power of love; how it transforms Charlotte into a passionate and courageous woman; how Saul steps out of his comfort zone and finds his own musical voice? Somehow, while bridging the gap between Upper West Side and Bronx, together they create something special – their own little world. A bit too sweet for your taste? Well I haven’t mentioned my second, favourite part of the book and that is the gorgeous, passion-filled sex masterfully written and well balanced. The attraction between Charlotte and Saul is instantaneous, primal and mutual. They dive into each other with eagerness, stimulated by impatience and insatiable hunger – it’s the ultimate communion of bodies and souls. And about the cotton-candy happy ending? Well, it is an erotic romance Ladies and Gents, and – true to its genre – the book delivers the most delicious “happily ever after” in a very tasty, scorchingly hot wrapper.