A pianist must battle her fears to find both success and love in this novel from a New York Times–bestselling author and “wonderful writer” (Luanne Rice).
Bess Stallone is a self-taught musical prodigy from the rough side of Long Island, and the only thing she has in common with her Julliard classmates is her passion for classical music. But despite her extraordinary skill on the piano, and her seemingly brash personality, she is paralyzed by stage fright and self-doubt when she tries to play for an audience.
Virtuoso David Montagnier is drawn to Bess’s wild talent, and when he takes her under his wing, it may be her chance to overcome her insecurities and escape her blue-collar existence. But David has his own secret demons, and the road before Bess holds obstacles she never expected, in this “compelling drama [with] fully dimensional characters” by the bestselling author of Out of the Blue (Booklist).
“Mandel displays her talent for establishing a strong female lead in an appealing milieu with an equally intriguing love interest.” —Publishers Weekly
“With wit and wisdom, Sally Mandel illuminates our deepest hopes and secret fears, showing us what matters most.” —Deborah Smith, author of The Stone Flower Garden
As in her deservedly popular Out of the Blue, Mandel here displays her talent for establishing a strong female lead in an appealing milieu with an equally intriguing love interest. Frank-talking Long Island native Bess Stallone ("no relation") is a gifted pianist, fascinated and formed by music from an early age, but in every other way an unlikely virtuoso. With her difficult family life, wrong-side-of-island provenance and paralyzing stage fright, she's the perfect narrator to spin out Mandel's trademark self-deprecating humor. Bess has gotten into Juilliard and attracted the attention of the brilliant and renowned pianist David Montagnier, who wants her to be his partner at first on stage, and later in the bedroom. In a series of skillful scenes, Mandel takes Bess from down and out to what seems like the life of her dreams. But David, however potentially compelling as a character, remains a gorgeous cipher until the end, while good guy Jake, Bess's high school buddy, is telegraphed too clearly as being the one Bess is destined to be with. Mandel could have written a much deeper book, since both David's past with his tragic mother, Aimee, and Bess's history with Jake would have added weight and balance. The strong supporting characters and an ending that almost satisfies wrap up a package that leaves the reader wanting more. National radio ads; print ads inRomantic Times; New York media and bookstore appearances.