Translated by Jeannette K. Ringold.
Johann Sebastian Bach's music forms the backdrop to this stunning novel about motherhood and loss.
Following the death of her daughter, a bereaved pianist immerses herself in Bach's Goldberg Variations.
As the woman perfects the complex musical architecture of Bach's own study in grief, memories of her past unfold.
A family, mother, father, son and daughter appear during various stages of their lives together and the story builds up to a crescendo of great emotional power.
Anna Enquist is the pseudonym for Dutch writer Christa Widlund-Broer. She was born in Amsterdam in 1945 and grew up in Delft. She studied clinical psychology in Leiden and then studied piano and cello at the Conservatorium in Den Haag. In the 1980's and she returned to Amsterdam and became a psychoanalyst. In 1994 Enquist published her first novel 'Het meesterstuk' (The Masterpiece) for which she received the Debut Prize. It is a modern retelling of Mozart's opera 'Don Giovanni'. Classical music also plays a central role in her second novel 'Het geheim' (The Secret) in which a concert pianist sees music as a way of escaping reality. Three storylines run through the book like a musical composition, interwoven with details of piano playing and musical imagery. Enquist's 2005 historical novel 'De thuiskomst' (The Homecoming) focused on the wife of 18th century explorer James Cook. But she returned to classical music for her latest book 'Contrapunt' (Counterpoint). After the death of her daughter, a woman is practicing Bach's 'Goldberg Variations' which the composer wrote out of grief for his dead son. Enquist's own daughter was killed in a traffic accident in 2001 and the moving story could be read a memorial.
Author: Anna Enquist