Book review: Maestro by Peter Goldsworthy

March 20, 2007 at 1:43 am 1 comment

Maestro by Peter Goldsworthy

For my first book review, I have chosen the book I have most recently finished. An Australian novel, of universal appeal (I feel), but which still gives enough credit to the backdrop of the Australian climate and countryside to be especially poignant to local readers. The book is set in the Australian capital of Darwin, prior to and following the devastation of cyclone Tracy. And on occasion, in Adelaide where the family whom the book revolves around originate from.

The story revolves around the character of Paul, who starts the story as a teenager, typically bored with life and full of little more than contempt for things that surround him. He is introduced to Herr Keller, also known as “the maestro”, his new piano teacher, whom we learn little about initially, other than he is Viennese and considered to be the best piano teacher in all of Darwin (something that is presumably not that difficult, given the size of Darwin at the time of the novel’s setting). Herr Keller is immediately established as a difficult man, almost arrogant in his opinions of his own piano skills, and bitingly harsh when dealing with Paul, who’s parents believe to be an oustanding pianist for his age but whom Herr Keller is quick to dismiss as nothing of the sort. Somewhat predictably we quickly learn that Keller has a softer side, and a vulnerability which engages both us, and his student.

Through the journey they take together, the maestro and his student learn from each other, in subtle as well as obvious ways. The novel succeeds in building two interesting and engaging characters in student and teacher, and the story leaves just enough to the imagination to keep the us reading. The writing is absolutely beautiful, rich and descriptive without getting bogged down in unnecessary superlatives. However for all the plusses, Maestro left me feeling a bit disatisfied in the latter half. In particular, the character of Paul seems to be lost as he gets older. In the early portion of the novel there is a real sense of presence of Paul’s character, almost akin to that of Holden Caulfield, however unfortunately we lose sight of this somewhere along the way, and with the depth of character waning, so does the intrigue of the novel.

However, fortunately the first half more than makes up for the novel’s lackluster ending, and this book is still worthy of both high praise and vehement recommendation.

Seven out of Ten.


Entry filed under: books.

Sweet and sour pumpkin with cannelini bean salad Caramalised chilli salmon with asian sesame salad

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Alex  |  April 25, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    Thank You

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