Barbara's Reviews > The Musician's Daughter

The Musician's Daughter by Susanne Dunlap
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Nov 27, 09

bookshelves: juvenile, mystery, historical-fiction, washyarg
Recommended for: Gr 7-10
Read in August, 2009

Probably a 3.5.
Set in the 18th century music world of Haydn in Vienna, this historical fiction/mystery opens as the body of 15 year old Theresa’s murdered musician father is brought home on Christmas Eve. A budding musician herself, Theresa feels compelled to use her wits and talent to uncover what really happened to her father, thereby pushing the boundaries of accepted roles and behaviors for girls and women of the times (1779). She discovers secret activities of her father’s as her search pulls her into political intrigue of the times, namely the persecution and abuses of serfs and the Romany people by the noble class. Along the way, Theresa develops a very slow, tentative romance with Zoltan, a ½ gypsy, ½ Hungarian musician in Haydn’s orchestra.
Theresa is a strong, likeable character whose fast-paced adventures bring out the issues of social justice stirring throughout Europe around the time of the American Revolution – gender, class, and ethnic inequalities. The Romany characters portrayed were varied, nuanced, and the author did not resort to common stereotypes (except perhaps in the choice of Zoltan’s name…). Some might find the social issues more than they wanted, but I liked the inclusion of the sociology of the times. The love of music is palpable throughout this well-researched period novel. Useful for historical fiction fans or assignments and a read-alike perhaps for Phillip Pullman’s ‘Sally Lockhart’ series.
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