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The Prague Sonata

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,918 ratings  ·  362 reviews
From the critically acclaimed author Bradford Morrow, a literary quest novel that travels from Nazi-occupied Prague to turn-of-the-millennium New York as a young musicologist seeks to solve the mystery behind an eighteenth-century sonata manuscript.

Music and war, war and music—these are the twin motifs around which Bradford Morrow, recipient of the Academy Award in Fiction
Hardcover, 519 pages
Published October 3rd 2017 by Atlantic Monthly Press
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Stephanie Frost If you can get the book on audio, that helps a ton. The woman who reads it is great with the Czech and the accents. I'd give it a four out of five. Fi…moreIf you can get the book on audio, that helps a ton. The woman who reads it is great with the Czech and the accents. I'd give it a four out of five. Finish it.(less)

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 ·  1,918 ratings  ·  362 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Oct 04, 2017 rated it liked it
What I liked?

The history, had read little before of the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia, and none at all of The Velvet Revolution of the nineties.
The tour of Prague, fascinating city with a long history.
A few of the characters, Otylie, Sam, Garrett, Tomas and Irena. All interesting and touching, living in hard times and trying to survive the best way they could. Their lives afterward, what happened to them.

What was mixed? Love music, find searching and identifying lost things fascinating, this w
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
This book contains several of my favorite things- history, music, a love story and a good mystery. Meta, a musicologist, is given the second movement of an unknown 18th century sonata by Irena, a Czech emigre, and charged with finding the first and third movements.

The story travels back and forth in time, between Otylie being given the sonata by her father at the end of WWI, to her divvying up the movements during WWII to keep it out of the hands of the Germans, to her later life and then to th
Angela M
Oct 04, 2017 rated it liked it

I thought I would like this more since at it's core, this is story of courageous resistance against the Nazis during the German occupation of Prague. I’ve read stories before about how people have tried so hard under almost impossible circumstances, to save paintings. This time it’s a music manuscript. For a moment I ask why - when your life and the lives of others are so much more precious. But it is a matter of saving a part of history, a part of one’s culture, a part of oneself. Certainly mea
Oct 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
2.5 stars. As I read The Prague Sonata, I kept thinking "Please let this book end..." What a terrible reaction to what should and could have been a really good novel. The Prague Sonata is a good idea left untamed. It takes place throughout the 20th and early 21st century, and focuses on a found musical manuscript that is suspected of being by a famous composer. Just at the beginning of WWII, Prague resident, Otylie, who has inherited the manuscript from her father, must find a way to keep it saf ...more
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book! It had all the aspects I love - historical detail, mystery, complex characters and scholarly research. Perhaps because I love music and have had many years of piano instruction, the preservation of a previously unknown sonata by a master such as Beethoven was mind-boggling. I do enjoy lengthy books as they make me feel connected to the story and the characters.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a "meaty" and well-written book.

"Being a survivor meant you live
Maureen Carden
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Lush, lovely, and lyrical would be an accurate way to describe Mr. Morrow's twenty year journey in researching and writing The Prague Sonata.
I was captivated from the beginning by the story of two women, born almost sixty years apart, in their quest to preserve, and then recover a sonata of unknown authorship but of unmistakable beauty and originality. A sonata is a composition written in three sections known as an exposition, a development, and a recapitulation
Otylie Laska’s father gives her
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music, fiction, mystery
This is such a long novel, perhaps longer than it needs to be. It is rather slow, but the story unfolds in a nonlinear fashion. It starts out just after WWI, then continues to WWII, then to modern times, back and forth, back and forth. The Velvet revolution, modern times, back and forth again and again.

So why do I like it so much? A few reasons. First, the novel is a mystery/detective story. The reader simply does not know how it will end, and there are a few surprises scattered along the way.
Thanks to NetGalley for an advanced ebook in exchange for an honest review.

I have decided to not give this book a rating. I dragged my feet on the reading of it and at the 34% mark admitted defeat. This was perhaps the first NetGalley that I felt was assembled in a mismatch way because I could never make head nor tails of which dual storyline was unraveling. Although I am really disappointed that this book didn't hold my interest, I can see that I am safely in the minority.
Cindy Burnett
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

I loved the base story line in The Prague Sonata; it was completely engrossing, clever and unique. My one complaint, which altered my overall thoughts on the book significantly, was that the book was WAY too long and included too much extraneous information. I ended up having to skim pages and pages to pick up the next section on the sonata story line. I thoroughly enjoyed the tale regarding the missing manuscript, and the resolution of that tale brought tears to my eyes. The Czech hist
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
5 plus stars

Our story starts out in Czechoslovakia just after the ending of WWI. A little girl named Otylie is told by her father that there is music in war. He describes even the various types of military music, including the music that accompanies the start and finish of a battle. The young girl ponders this and decides she doesn’t want this haunting her. He leaves her a three part musical score. For Otylie this is the only thing that remains of her father.

It is now the late 1939 and Czechos
May 21, 2017 rated it it was ok

An anonymous piano sonata of unknown provenance and Prague, one of the most enchanting cities in the world – I simply loved the premise and read The Prague Sonata in great anticipation.

In brief, I was disappointed. The characters are not especially developed and the “bad guy” is not especially bad – just another vain, narcissistic academic. In places, it felt the author was simply copying off notes for a plot outline, and in others, the narrative was overwritten with flowery or five dollar words
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, favorites
What makes me love a book? Gorgeous writing. Great characters. An intriguing plot. Insights into our common humanity. Historical perspective. Encountering joy and love. Encountering horror, war, and villains. A story line that grabs me so I want to know what happens next.

Some books have one or two of those attributes. To find a book that wraps up all of these things is a happy day indeed. Bradford Morrow's The Prague Sonata offers the whole package.

The story is rich and complex, but also full o
Patricia Doyle
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley-books
The Prague Sonata was extremely well researched. Unfortunately, more often than not, this research read like a history book with countless facts or much like a telephone book filled with Czech names. It reminded me of Cliff Clavin, from television’s ‘Cheers’. Cliff knew everything about everything (“It’s a little known fact that …”) and told you all of it. There were more details in this book than I ever wanted to know.

There were too many Czech names and street names. There were too many referen
Beth Duke
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I adored this book.
While it got off to a slow start, primarily because I’m
not well-versed (pardon the pun) in musicology, I fell in love with the narratives and characters past and present. Morrow does an excellent job of entertaining and educating, all while keeping the reader’s rapt attention. I bought this book because I’ll be visiting Prague soon—my experience will be much richer because of it. Highly recommended!
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A while ago I read Morrow's Forgers and remember enjoying it within reason, but being somewhat underwhelmed. One of the most memorable things about that reading experience was the exhaustive amount of research the author ahs obviously put into it. Well, at 300some pages that was nothing comparing to this particular behemoth and all the musicology that went into it. Confession time...Music, I'm just not that into you. I'm not against music for the right occasion for a reasonable duration, but it' ...more
Apr 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Stories about music are among my favorites. Stories about music set in cities i love and composers i really like are even better. So when i requested this book, The Prague Sonata, i was expecting a very pleasant journey in my favorite city. And i was not disappointed. It was kind of thrilling to be able to picture exactly the places mentioned and to recall the emotions and impressions that those same places conjured.

By some mysterious chance, a part of an 18th century music manuscript came into
Michael Austin
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2020
This is a deeply satisfying book at just about every level. The prose is fantastic, the story is compelling, and the ideas are powerful. And it is also a page-turner.

The story revolves around one actual historical incident and one fictional modern quest. The historical incident is the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the arch-Nazi Reichsprotektor who had been dispatched to implement Nazi terror policies in Czechoslovakia. Heydrich was a seriously bad dude. He was the head of the Gestapo, the
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I thought this book was excellent. The story is intriguing. It's well written. It takes place mostly in Prague, which I love. This is the story of a sonata that was divided into three parts during World War II, the people who had the three parts, and the musicologist that is tasked with bringing them back together. I love novels like this where there is historical fiction and some sort of mystery in the present that needs to be solved. I definitely recommend this. ...more
Steven Z.
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
At the end of World War I Jaromir Laska is killed on the battlefield leaving an orphaned daughter with his most prized possession, an old music manuscript. The daughter, Otylie was packed off to live with an aunt in Prague where she remained until 1939 when the Nazis seized control of her country. So begins Bradford Morrow’s brilliant new novel, THE PRAGUE SONATA where the music manuscript became the centerpiece of Otylie’s memory of her father. Its origin and composer would become an obsession ...more
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm giving this book a five-minus--but I'm aware that other readers might not find the book as delicious as I did. I am a musician and a student of music history, so the musician-to-musician dialogues and explanations sprinkled generously through the text (the typical architecture of a late Classical-era sonata, for example) were familiar territory. The story, from beginning to end, was utterly believable, from the seemingly random discovery of the work of a major composer to the bitter jealousi ...more
Davida Chazan
When part of a manuscript of what seems to be an 18th century piano sonata falls into Meta Taverner’s hands, she decides she must find the missing pieces, and see if she can discover who wrote it, as well as attempt to return the full work to its rightful owner. Her search takes her half way across the globe, and gets her involved in an intrigue that might result in her losing everything. This is the latest novel from Bradford Morrow, and you can read what I thought of it in my review here.
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'm really sorry I can not give a better review, but this book disappointed me by the time I reached the end. A rather interesting story is embedded in an inexplicable number of details that do not contribute to the plot, and the action is so extravagant and, as an average reader, at some point you will probably lose the will to find out the remaining secrets hidden in this book. I believe this is an excellent idea, but a weak performance. The whole story could be purified and presented to a bro ...more
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Run...don't walk to your bookstore or library to get a copy of this book. It is seriously one of the best books I've read in a while. The story is fantastic, woven through the German invasion of the Czech Republic and modern times, and touches on greed, loss, love of music, and just plain love.

I was pleasantly surprised when Nebraska (specifically Lincoln and PRAGUE!) provided a backdrop for part of the timeline in the book.

At one point I stopped reading because I was too close to the end and
Mark Pinkerton
Feb 22, 2018 rated it did not like it
I made it two-thirds of the way through this before abandoning the book.

Yes the author did a lot of research. But I don't need to read all of it.

There is an interesting historical mystery here, involving WWII era Prague, but there is an overload of musical information unnecessary to the plot, and building by building description of old neighborhoods in Prague.

The final straw was the Harlequin-lite romance.

After a month of dreading picking the book up again, I gave up and moved on.
Oct 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC of this book.
What a disappointment! The description told me it was the kind of book I love to read. The subject, the era, the characters were all of great interest. It was well researched and but far too long with too many extraneous details. I skimmed a lot and just wished it would be over. 2.5 Stars. Some may have more patience with the wordiness than I.
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
First, full disclosure. I gained early access to this book with the understanding that I would write an impartial review AND I requested that access because I read a lot about the two world wars and the book's description indicated it was related to Prague during World War II.

PRAGUE SONATA is a great read! It's suspenseful, has interesting and multi-dimensional characters and takes the reader deep inside the world of professional musicians and musicologists. One of the novel's main characters is
Meta Taverner, a former piano prodigy & now a dedicated musicologist, wonders about the manuscript that's just fallen into her hands. The gift of the Eastern European emigre Irena, living out her last days in Queens, NY, the work's penmanship & rag-paper & more suggest the composition dates a long way back, 1800 or earlier, & according to the ancient Irena, it's one movement of a sonata, separated into thirds back in 1938, in Prague. At that time the piece's owners had too much Jew in them for t ...more
Mary Worley
Tried and tried to like this book -- finally couldn't bear the overwrought and melodramatic writing as the author told what might have been an engaging story. Perhaps listening to the novel, rather than reading it, accentuated the prose that became unbearable by disc 10 of 15. The last straw: "Her heart thudded in her breast." Ugh! ...more
Apr 25, 2018 added it
Twice as long as I had patience for.
Cynthia Egbert
Jul 16, 2019 rated it liked it
I am not gonna lie, this one feels long but I enjoyed it. There is some gorgeous writing here and the story is fascinating. Well, except for the villain. He was non solid. I don't know how else to explain him, the character just never solidified for me and so the conflict and villainy never worked and that frustrated me. That being said, the history and the music and the detective work was a lot of fun.

Here are some quotes that I want to remember when I return the book to its owner:

"All wars be
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Bradford Morrow has lived for the past thirty years in New York City and rural upstate New York, though he grew up in Colorado and lived and worked in a variety of places in between. While in his mid-teens, he traveled through rural Honduras as a member of the Amigos de las Americas program, serving as a medical volunteer in the summer of 1967. The following year he was awarded an American Field S ...more

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