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The Music Lesson

3.28 of 5 stars 3.28  ·  rating details  ·  477 ratings  ·  90 reviews
Patricia Dolan is alone with a stolen Vermeer painting in an Irish cottage by the sea. How she got here is part of the story she tells us: about her father, a Boston cop; the numbing loss of her daughter; and her charming Irish cousin, who has led her to this high-stakes crime.
Her vigil becomes a tale of love, regret, and transformation. As Patricia immerses herself in the
Published January 2nd 2000 by Picador (first published December 29th 1998)
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The book begins with a woman babysitting a stolen Vermeer in a cottage in a remote village in the west of Ireland. The first half of the book is a series of flashbacks explaining how she got there; the rest of the book tells us how it all turns out.

A good story, expertly told. I considered a fourth star, but have an aversion to the stereotype of roguishly charming IRA operatives, able to bend schoolmarmish undersexed protagonists to their will merely by turning up the blarney quotient and expos

A nice holiday read. I thought the atmosphere of the village and cottage were really well portrayed. I love Vermeer paintings and after reading this book am keen to visit the art section of our local library again. I liked the ending and have to admit chuckling to myself as I closed the book.
The narrator's voice is wonderful. I loved the spare, economical way the narrator spun her story. She used just the essential details to explain how she came to be keeping her favorite Vermeer painting in a Samsonite suitcase in the damp attic of a cottage in southwest Ireland.
Read It Forward
Hooray! Katharine Weber's sublime novel THE MUSIC LESSON has been re-issued in paperback. I could go on and on about this lyrical tale of family and heartache and art, but I will simply say this: you MUST read this book.
(pasted) New York art historian Patricia Dolan is so swept away by the distant Irish cousin, Michael O'Driscoll, who seeks her out for her expertise but quickly becomes her lover, that in no time she is living in a remote cottage on the west coast of Ireland and is part of an IRA-inspired plot to kidnap a Vermeer painting (titled The Music Lesson) from the British royal collection and hold it for ransom. Patricia, alone in a wet winter with no company but the cherished Vermeer, keeps a journal t ...more
Jean Pilutti
A very interesting novel set predominantly in Ireland. The art historian's life takes a very different twist when she becomes involved with a much younger man who she has met in USA. The main character goes to Ireland partly to discover her roots and partly because of a painting, namely, The Music Lesson.
It is definitely one that will capture your imagination and specifically if you are interested in art history. A very fast read but worth it for some insightful, thought-provoking comments.
A short, easy read (I was able to read it in one sitting) but quite enjoyable read. There were a few things that I thought were a little implausible but overall a great plot that kept me guessing and enjoyable writing. I especially loved the ending!
Kim Moritsugu
A lovely little gem of a literary mystery, about an American art restorer who ends up in a difficult situation in a small Irish village. This book (and others) inspired me to write my first literary mystery, The Glenwood Treasure.
A delightful, very short novel about the theft and destruction of a Vermeer painting. Well done! A great book to read alongside The Art Forger and Girl with the Pearl Earring or The Goldfinch.
 Barb Bailey
This book combines an art heist, the IRA, and some Irish histoy all in one. I fell it could be classified as a mystery as well. Well written with a good twist for the ending.
Very interesting fast read for lovers of art, travel and mystery.
A lovely book.
Patricial Dolan is a woman in living in pain - her marriage is over after her daughter is killed in a car accident and she no longer knows how to connect with people to move on in the aftermath. Until a hot young Irish rebel comes into her life bringing love, sex and a scheme to steel a priceless Vermeer. Sounds like a book I wouldn't want to read. And yet - this book is so much more than its trite movie of the week plot. In fact, I found the plot secondary to the inner thoughts of Patricia, the ...more
Terrible. An art historian is moping about the Irish countryside full of grief and secrets. She starts keeping a journal in which she writes down why she's aided and abetted an Irish terrorist group in stealing a valuable Vermeer from Buckingham Palace.

Keeping a record of a crime is stupid enough, but when you read her motives - the love of Irish roots, the death of a child, somehow culminating in her relationship with an IRL (think IRA) member - it only makes you think what a pathetic and piti
"Jeune Femme au luth" est le journal de Patricia Dolan, une historienne de l'art américaine, qui se retrouve dans un petit cottage irlandais, au bord de la mer. Elle doit se faire la gardienne de la précieuse peinture de Vermeer, subtilisée à la collection royale britannique par un groupe de l’IRA. Dans ce roman intime, poignant et sublimement écrit, la narratrice parle de son passé, de sa famille Irlandaise, de ses blessures personnelles (la mort de son enfant), de la découverte de la sensualit ...more
I kept waiting for something to HAPPEN in this book. There was a ton of interesting descriptions and the narrator kept trying to intrigue the reader, but I have to say, up until the last 20 pages of the book, I was bored. (Sorry Linds! But to each their own opinion, right?). It's the equivalent of saying "It's a renter" if it was a movie. But alas...
Karen M
The Music Lesson is a clever book - the cleverness begins with the cover, which depicts not Vermeer's “The Music Lesson’, but a detail from his ‘A Lady Writing A Letter’. Her hand holds her quill as light spills onto her; in the full painting she looks at the viewer in much the same way as the woman in the painting in the story looks at Patricia Dolan, our central character. Perhaps Weber is regarding us to see if we get it, her little dance with ‘facts’ in this novel. She asks us directly “But ...more
Monica Fastenau
The plot follows Patricia Dolan, an American with deep Irish roots. She has moved temporarily to Ireland because she has been involved in the theft of one of Vermeer’s paintings. When Mickey, supposedly a long-lost Irish cousin, comes to town asking for help, Patricia immediately agrees. She falls in love with Mickey, and eventually uses her expertise as an art historian/researcher to help Mickey and some of his Irish friends steal the Vermeer painting. It turns out that Mickey and his friends a ...more
This book is short at only 178 pages but it is packed, just filled with intrigue. Weber does a fantastic job with the subtleties and the twisting the drama. A museum librarian is seduced (willingly) to steal a famous painting from the Queen as a statement and ransom from the IRA. She hides out in a remote village in Ireland with the painting during the fallout. Really enjoyed this. Especially the little tidbit about Ireland and England relationship with the Dutch (since the painting was a Vermee ...more
May 19, 2008 Marguerite rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
A nicely written cautionary tale about loneliness and infatuation that mixes in heaps of Irish and art history. It's well-paced and thought-provoking.

I didn't know that deforestation was an English strategy to subdue/defeat the Irish.

"Life seems sometimes like nothing more than a series of losses, from beginning to end. That's the given. How you respond to those losses, what you make of what's left, that's the part you have to make up as you go."
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I've studied Art History and I've lived in Ireland. Thankfully, I was never involved in a paramilitary plot to steal and ransom a work of art from the Queen of England, though.

I thought the story was well done -- although I'm not sure I buy the main character keeping a journal about the whole thing. I enjoyed the references to Irish writers like Iris Murdoch and James Joyce as well. Very nicely done, overall.
Sam Poole
Lyrical, spare, obsessive, beautiful and deceptive. Very slow to start and somewhat hard to believe in the romance (or "romance") between Patricia and distant cousin Mickey. Takes quite a few left turns that are written deftly and gorgeously. Short and a complete circle- both a commentary on politics and love, loss and receipt. Not perfect but so tight and beautiful, erotic and evocative and tittering with unsaid nuances beneath spare, economical, powerfully subtle language. Hard to see where th ...more
This novel (which combines three sub-genres...the art heist, the self-discovery of one's Irish ancestry and heritage, and the IRA thriller) has real moments of beauty and insight. Weber has a nice way with words and images. I am not sure yet if the novel actually works or has too contrived an ending.
I finished this book with a huge smile on my face! I loved the style and descriptions of living in Ireland in the cottage by the sea. It's a short little gem; story unfolds slowly narrated by Patricia-some art history, Irish history and even some love.
Feb 27, 2014 Norah rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Angeline, Sue, Terence, Linski
Recommended to Norah by: Oxfam cull
Well written, but I felt, coming from northern Ireland, a little disturbed by light attitude taken at the start towards the IRA. However, it redeemed itself towards the end, though that itself I found unrealistic. A quick and interesting read.
the premise of the book was interesting to me. a famous vermeer painting is stolen. that sounded cool. as well as some of the details around the heist. but it was sloppy in writing, with romance inserted too early and often.
Beautifully and sparely written, and evocative of rural Ireland. Also, an Intriguing take on what happened to the Vermeer stolen in Boston. However, I found the ending improbable for a lover of Vermeer.
Well written story about art, passion, and the Troubles; the protagonist is somewhat irritatingly naive, and the other characters don't really come alive, but the writing is strong.
A stolen Vermeer and Irish history are intermingled in this short novel. I liked the textures and feel of the novel and the sense of being a part of a great work of art.
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Katharine Weber’s fiction debut in print, the short story "Friend of the Family," appeared in The New Yorker in January, 1993.

Her first novel, Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear (of which that story was a chapter), was published by Crown Publishers, Inc. in 1995 and was published in paperback by Picador in 1996. She was named by Granta to the controversial list of 50 Best Young America
More about Katharine Weber...
Triangle True Confections The Little Women Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear: A Novel The Memory of All That: George Gershwin, Kay Swift, and My Family's Legacy of Infidelities

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“Life seems sometimes like nothing more than a series of losses, from beginning to end. That's the given. How you respond to those losses, what you make of what's left, that's the part you have to make up as you go.” 2019 likes
“I am in awe of the perpetual tumult of the sea. I am moved by the still place on the horizon where the sky begins. I am stirred by the soaring and dipping fields that make the landscape into a rumpled green counterpane. I thought I would never have such powerful feelings again. I thought I would live through the rest of my life having experiences, and thoughts, but I never thought I would again feel deeply-- I was convinced that my wounds had healed and become thick scars, essentially numb.” 12 likes
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