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Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  794 ratings  ·  194 reviews

'All my life my Stradivarius had been waiting for me, as I had been waiting for her . . .'

At 7 years old Min Kym was a prodigy, the youngest ever pupil at the Purcell School of Music. At 11 she won her first international prize. She worked with many violins, waiting for the day she would play 'the one'. At 21 she found it: a rare 1696 Stradivarius, perfectly suited to her

Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published April 6th 2017 by Penguin
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3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  794 ratings  ·  194 reviews

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Jun 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
The best memoirs introduce you to a life experience you’ll never know for yourself. I’m completely unmusical, so I enjoyed learning about what it’s like to be a violin virtuoso and a child prodigy, and what it means to fall in love with an instrument. Kym also puts things into the context of being a Korean immigrant to London. The central event of the book is having her Stradivarius, worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, stolen from a train station café in late 2010, an event that plunged her i ...more
Visit the locations in the novel: Gone

This book sang to me – what a joy to read and an honour to be inside Min Kym’s world. Despite the relatively short length of the story, this is just the written story – like a page of written music is really an entire concerto. The story of Min Kym’s journey to the violin maestro she became is something to marvel at long after you’ve finished.
The writing is warm and friendly – I was Min Kym’s friend from the start. Her passion for music, for her violin stan
Kasa Cotugno
This book has it all. In her beautifully written memoir, Min Kym describes her life as a childhood prodigy who received notice from a very early age. From the age of six, when she first picked up a scaled down violin, she knew where her future and passion would lie. With each successive instrument, increasing in size and importance, she mastered her technique and expanded her repertoire, until, in a moment suffused with more romance than deemed possible, she met "the one," a rare 1696 Stradivari ...more
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Min is more talented than all of us, totally knows it and I didn't hate her for even a minute. Love her writing. Love her candor in regards to all her greatness and her flaws. It reads very fresh and honest. I couldn't relate for a second but I never felt like I needed to in order to care. It almost felt as if Min didn't expect us to care, she just really needed to tell the story. A cool desperation. Which worked. I'm glad I took my time with this one.

Thanks to the goodreads firstreads giveaway
I read this entire book in one sitting, skipping dinner and foregoing sleep to continue reading Min Kym's memoirs about learning the violin, finding her Stradivarius, and the horror of it's theft. It is truly spellbinding.

The best memoirs are the ones that can bring you into a life as it was lived by someone else, and Kym does exactly that. The story she's told--alternately beautiful and horrifying--wraps you in it's arms and shows you what it is to be a virtuoso but also to be a young woman in
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I very much enjoyed this heartfelt memoir by Min Kym. Ms. Kym gives us an in depth look into the life of a child prodigy. Though she longed to live a “normal” life, hers was taken up with studying and playing the violin. She loved every minute of it but she did miss not having friends or going to other children’s birthday parties. But music was her passion and she definitely kept my interest as she tells of her progress in music.

Then she finds what she calls her “soulmate” – a valuable Stradivar
Natalie (CuriousReader)
There's so many wonderful things to be found in this slim musical memoir; the idea of a violin as a person's voice, the connection to an instrument for a (professional) musician, the aim of music and the art form's beauty as well as its limitations; all of this and more is woven into Min Kym's own personal story of a life in which the violin has played the leading role.

Video review (or chat) about this book:
Someone asked me once if, side by side, I could have a perfect version of my violin or the version that I have, which one would I choose? It's hard to say I wouldn't choose the perfect one, because I've never heard it, never held it, never taken it out of its case, but its imperfections were what made my violin my violin, what made it almost human. I needed those imperfections, needed to coax out the brilliance that lay within its damaged frame. I loved my violin, but I also had compassion for
E. H. Nathasia
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'All my life my Stradivarius had been waiting for me, as I had been waiting for her . . .'

This is a love story.

I was very intrigued with the book, reading its excerpt and reviews in Goodreads. I am glad that I was chosen to received a free copy from Times Reads and to review it.

This is a love story, but a love between a girl and her violin. Min Kym was the youngest ever pupil at the Purcell School of Music. At 11 she won her first international prize. She was a prodigy, her talent was recognised
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gone is the story of a woman with a violin, who had begun as a child prodigy on the violin, who had found her equivalent to a soul mate in the perfect violin for her, and from whom this violin was stolen. It was a Stradivarius, and so worth a great deal of money – but, more importantly to her, it was the instrument from which she had brought music for ten years, which she had nurtured and which had nurtured her, which she had expected to die holding. Which in a moment of weakness, of illness and ...more
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc-net-galley
I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

5 Stars, more if I could give more.

"My violin was born in 1696, the year Peter the Great became Tsar of Russia. It's seen off Napoleon, Queen Victoria, Stalin, Mao Tse-tung, two world wars, and so far, the atomic bomb. People come, people go, violinists live, violinists die, empires rise and fall and the violin lives on, washed from shore to shore on tides of wealth, fortune and history. But this is just a speck of time for my
Laura Harrison
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a treat! Although Gone was heartbreaking much of the time, it is beautifully written. You become friends with Min Kym from the start. Her life as a musical prodigy and beyond. When her "soulmate" Stradivarius is stolen at a train café (no-she was never careless with her instrument. Her boyfriend talked her into moving it), it completely broke her. Musically and mentally. Her eating disorder from many years prior returned and she was unable to play. Min's violin was found in 2010. But it was ...more
Suze Lavender
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Music has always been in Min Kym's blood and from the moment she held the violin for the first time she knew this instrument would make her happy. As a child prodigy her career as a musician was settled. She played with the most inspiring teachers, who were impressed by her talent and she won many prestigious prizes. When, at the age of twenty-one, Min Kym found the instrument of her dreams, a Stradivarius from 1696, she knew she'd have a brilliant future together with her beloved instrument. Un ...more
Apr 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't put this book down. Min-Jin Kym is a violin virtuoso, born in Korea, but raised in London, England. I loved her honesty about her love for the violin, growing up as a prodigy. Even though I am not a musician, I grew up with a brother and a best friend that played the violin, so a lot of Kym's story resonated. I also bought her album and listened to it while reading the book.
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Min Kym tackled a difficult task here: to describe a loss that few people truly understand. She spends a lot of time trying to convey her relationship to music and to her Strad, they way it became a piece of her, an extension of her most intimate and also public identity. I loved the easy way in which she discussed her relationship with specific pieces. The complicated relationships with teachers.

There was a delay between when I downloaded this book and when I read it, and that delay was long e
Apr 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaway
Unlike the description in the Goodreads blurb about this memoir, I found Min Kym's Gone to be a very far cry from 'spellbinding.'

This was the first 'uncorrected proof' that I've received that I felt lived up to its name. The amount of typos and errors throughout the pages was jarring and made the already short, choppy sentences that much more choppy and lacking readability.

In addition to that, I was quite bored until the action, so to speak, began, in the fourth chapter, when Min's violin gets
Will Ejzak
Not much to say about this one. I totally empathize with Kym's intensely disciplined childhood, her highly personal relationship with her instrument, her difficulty forging an identity for herself apart from her violin and her accomplishments--I can relate to a lot of this, and I assumed this memoir would be right up my alley. But Kym isn't a very good writer. And the elitism baked into the upper echelons of the classical music world became overwhelming by the end. (Kym completely breaks down wh ...more
Mar 11, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I had high hopes for this book, but in the end it was little more than a very short story stretched out over 200 pages.

Musician Min Kym was a child prodigy and is, by all measures, a remarkably gifted violinist. What she is not is a remarkably gifted writer. That's not a slight, simply a fact. She repeats the few points she has over and over and over via a choppy and dull prose. It might read as conversational, but that's not necessarily a good thing. The tale of her stolen Stradivarius is the h
Nadine Keels
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No violin meant more to former child prodigy and then professional soloist Min Kym than the 1696 Stradivarius she found at age twenty-one. When, years later, thieves steal her violin from her, they essentially steal much more than a wooden instrument. Min Kym relates her story of losing her violin and finding her voice in her memoir, Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung.

This author brings not only music but also her instrument itself to life through her words, so that her violin is thoroughly
Jan 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Min Kym was a child prodigy on the violin. When she started playing at age six, she knew it was to become her life. And it did. She went on to study in prestigious schools, earned prestigious awards, and had a blossoming career complete with albums released by Sony. But that was all lost in a moment: her violin, her Stradivarius, was stolen from a restaurant while she and her boyfriend were sitting right next to it. The moment of panic when she discovered it was gone led to months of panic, then ...more
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
This is a wonderful book about a musician's relationship with their instrument and what happens when it is taken away from them.

Min was eating lunch with her partner at Euston Station when her priceless Stradivarius was stolen. This plunged her in to depression and effectively ended her glittering career.

I loved this book. Being a musician myself I can completely relate. It was also fascinating to hear about her Korean upbringing and how being a talented prodigy affected her for the rest of her
The Idle Woman
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As someone with no musical ability whatsoever, I’ve never quite understood the bond that musicians have with their instruments. Now, however, I’m a little closer to appreciating that blend of physical and emotional reliance, thanks to this extraordinary and frank memoir. You may not recognise Min Kym’s name, but you will have heard her story: she is the brilliant violinist whose Stradivarius was stolen at Euston Station in 2010. This beautifully-written book is overshadowed throughout by that th ...more
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You cannot go wrong reading Min Kym’s “Gone”. The writing is clear and to the point. Inside is a journey well travelled, a good dose of history into classical music, violins, performers and being a child prodigy. Solid. Highly recommend.
Sara Grace
Apr 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Kinda want to punch that Matt kid.
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
A desperately sad book... a tale of pressure, loss, mental abuse...and without the happy ending...
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cbr10
They're like great trees, these violins. Like those from which they're made. They live through epochs.

Min Kym fell in love for the first time as a young child with a violin. Parental expedience demanded that she play either trumpet or violin as those were the only instructors available in the same time slot as Kym's older sister's piano lesson. She was immediately taken with the instrument. In the week between settling on the violin and receiving her first, she cut out a paper violin to "play".
Dena (Batch of Books)
I love reading books about artists. They're full of a passion that most people never feel in their lifetime. But very few artists are able to express their passion in words, but Min Kym managed that feat beautifully.
What's the Book About?

Gone is Min Kym's memoir. She was a child prodigy and started playing the violin (exceptionally well) at the age of six. In the way that prodigies do, she quickly gained recognition for her abilities and was soon playing in concerts across the globe.

At the age o
Deanna Madden
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
‘Gone: A Girl, A Violin, A Life Unstrung’ is a memoir by professional violinist Min Kym, who experienced a devastating personal and professional blow when her beloved violin, a Stradivarius, was stolen as she ate at a fast food restaurant with her boyfriend on a cold November night in 2010. The loss would rob her of her confidence in her ability and cause a prolonged crisis until she could find herself again.

While the incident that caused such heartbreak is a key part of the memoir, there is mor
When someone is as talented and dedicated as Myn Kym, it seems fair enough that she might feel her talent makes her somewhat special. Here she gives an exacting account of the hard work entailed in being recognized as a child prodigy, and the determination that placed her as an international darling before she had even reached her teens. She was a bright and shining star.

But a darker meaning of special intruded on the trajectory of her success when her beloved violin was stolen from a crowded ra

That is what this book inspired in me. The music major (piano/voice) in me was jumping up and down as I read and listened to this book. By the way, I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book from NetGalley.

As I have often said, it is hard to rate an autobiography. It is their life, their truth. Even so, if you have practiced any instrument for any length of time you feel what the author feels about her violin. Min Kym has written a readable and relatable story. She descr
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