Synopsis: The New York Times-bestselling author of A Fierce Radiance and City of Light returns with a new powerful and passionate novel—inspired by historical events—about two women, one European and one American, and the mysterious choral masterpiece by Johann Sebastian Bach that changes both their lives.
In the ruins of Germany in 1945, at the end of World War II, American soldier Henry Sachs takes a souvenir, an old music manuscript, from a seemingly deserted mansion and mistakenly kills the girl who tries to stop him.
In America in 2010, Henry’s niece, Susanna Kessler, struggles to rebuild her life after she experiences a devastating act of violence on the streets of New York City. When Henry dies soon after, she uncovers the long-hidden music manuscript.
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Thoughts on And After the Fire:
Lauren Belfer undertook quite a task in writing And After the Fire. The story of a found J. S. Bach manuscript in the 21st century is attractive material to any musician or musical history student. It is not difficult to believe this manuscript was by Bach as he wrote often from messages by Martin Luther. Yet, I found it troubling that these two people so highly respected in our time were antisemitic in their day.
Belfer transcends three time periods in writing And After the Fire. They are 1780-1870, the end of World War II, and current day. The transitions back and forth could make for difficult reading. But Belfer’s writing is seamless and meticulous about character, time, and place of her focus.
The research in this book is well done. I’m a fact-checker and I didn’t catch one misstep in Belfer’s reporting the facts to her readers. Additionally, I enjoy reading a book where I find few misspellings or grammatical errors.
And After the Fire holds mystery, history, musicology, genealogy, and romance within its pages. It is easy to recommend it to a variety of readers because of its varied genre held within a single novel.
Recommendation: Don’t miss Lauren Belfer’s And After the Fire.
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