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Fridays With Mayra Calvani

Posted on: November 5, 2010

              The Musician’s Daughter
              By Susanne Dunlap
              Young adult/historical

              Music and violin enthusiasts who love mystery
              and adventure fiction will relish Dunlap’s latest
              novel, The Musician’s Daughter.

              The story takes place in 18th Century Vienna
              and begins on Christmas Eve, as 15-year old
              Theresa Maria’s beloved father is brought to
              her home, dead. Though Maria is stunned and
              devastated by the event, her practical nature
              soon takes charge and she becomes the head of
              the household. Her mother isn’t able to help, as
              she is pregnant and dazed by her new
              widowhood. Theresa’s other family member is
              her little brother, and they need money soon if
              he is going to become a luthier’s apprentice, as
              it had been planned from the beginning. But
              who would hire a 15-year old viola player,
              anyway, in a time when musician women were
              frowned upon? Thus Theresa seeks the help of
              her father’s dear old friend, composer Franz
              Joseph Hayden. All along, however, Theresa is
              keen on investigating her father’s death. Why
              was her father’s dead body found near a gypsy
              camp? Why was his violin missing? Her
              instincts tell her there’s more to it than a vulgar
              petty crime.

              Indeed, as Theresa begins working with
              Hayden, she begins to suspect a conspiracy, a
              mystery reaching the high levels of the
              government. Was his father a simple violinist in
              the orchestra of Prince Nicholas Esterhazy, as
              she always thought he was, or was his real job
              more sinister?

              Music, mystery, espionage and a light touch of
              romance will keep readers turning the pages.
              Dunlap’s prose flows beautifully and I loved
              Theresa”s strong yet sympathetic character.
              She’s smart, resourceful and independent in a
              time where women were expected to behave
              just the opposite. The gypsy element adds an
              exotic, sensual flavor to the story. Musicians
              will particularly enjoy the musical descriptions.
              The story has an ambitious plot and I think
              Dunlap did a good job in tidying up all the
              loose ends. This is a novel to be enjoyed not
              only by teens but also by adults.

              Award-winning author Mayra Calvani writes
              fiction and nonfiction for children and adults.
              In addition, she writes book reviews for The
              New York Journal of Books, Blogcritics Magazine’s
              “Kiddie Corner,” and She’s
              had over 300 reviews, interviews, stories, and
              articles published in print and online. Mayra is
              a member of the Society of Children’s Book
              Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and the
              Children’s Writer’s Coaching Club. Visit her
              website at


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Irene Roth

Irene S. Roth, Freelance Writer for Teens, Tweens, and Kids

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