"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sight Reading by Daphne Kalotay - Book Review

Sight Reading
Author:  Daphne Kalotay
Published: May 2013
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 352
Genre:  Fiction
Edition:  ARC

I received an advanced reader's copy from the publisher and TLC book tours to facilitate this review.  Receipt thereof bears no influence on the opinions shared here.

The critically acclaimed author of Russian Winter turns her “sure and suspenseful artistry” (Boston Globe) to the lives of three colleagues and lovers in the world of classical music.
On a Boston street one warm spring day, Hazel and Remy spot each other for the first time in years. Although their brief meeting may seem insignificant, behind them lie two decades in which their life paths have crisscrossed, diverged, and ultimately interlaced. Remy, a gifted violinist, is married to the composer Nicholas Elko—once the love of Hazel’s life.
It has been twenty years since Remy, an ambitious conservatory student; Nicholas, a wunderkind launching an international career; and his wife, the beautiful and fragile Hazel, first came together, tipping their collective world on its axis. As their story unfolds from 1987 to 2007, from Europe to America, from conservatory life to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, each discovers the surprising ways in which the quest to create something real and true—be it a work of art or one’s own life—can lead to the most personal of revelations.
Lyrical and evocative, Sight Reading explores the role of art and beauty in everyday life, while unspooling a transporting story of marriage, family, and the secrets we keep, even from ourselves.
My Thoughts:

"In this world there are only two tragedies; one is not getting what one wants, the other is getting it." ~ page 97

Nicholas fell in love, head over heels in fact, from the moment he set his eyes on Hazel.  Not long afterwards, they married and had a daughter, Jessica.  Phase out to Remy, a curly-haired vibrant young girl who played the violin and who fell in love with her director, Nicholas.  Phase out Hazel, literally. After five years of marriage, Hazel and Nicholas divorce and he marries Remy. Oddly enough, Hazel bears little malice towards either of them.  Sure, she has secret moments of glee when she hears of disagreements like the one where Remy threw the teapot at Nicholas (told to Hazel by their daughter Jessica), but she quickly recovers from such feelings.  Really, she likes Remy and vice versa and they all love Jessica.  It's like one big happy extended family.  Hard to believe, but it's their world after all, the author's fiction.

Lives move on.  They drift apart, and still that mutual relationship remains.  On occasions where they meet, they are still happy to see each other.  Hazel realizes her first marriage, an attraction of complete opposites, was a mismatch and now that she is happily married to her soul mate, she can see the past, the stretches of loneliness, of doubt, and lack of confidence; as the past.  She is happy.  (I personally am so glad because I was rooting for her all along.  It seemed life had dealt her some terrible and sad blows and, face it, I always root for the underdog!)

Sight Reading is about music.  Not only the literal music of the orchestra, of which Nicholas and Remy both participate in, but also our own music.  The term "sight reading" refers to the ability of a musician to glance over a piece of music, hear the notes in their head, and then perform the piece without using the sheet music.  The musician, in this case Remy, begins playing off the sheets, but then they are taken away and she must continue to play, to feel the music and become one with it.  And she does!

Remy learns some valuable life lessons from Conrad Lesser.  He was her instructor during a summer program for musicians, but what he taught concerned not only playing an instrument:

"Listen to that," Lesser told them. "We limit ourselves every day without even knowing it, simply by doing what we always do, falling into patterns, not pushing ourselves further.  But every one of you has expressive reserves you've not yet discovered.  Your dear colleague here has just discovered some of her own, by facing a mistuned violin.  I want to help each of you find those reserves, so that you can tap them and go further, and give more, than you ever have before." ~ page 71.

There is some fabulous material in Sight Reading; some good life advice too.  That's what I liked about the book and that Kalotay allowed me to care for the two female protagonists, Hazel and Remy, was somewhat shocking because one was instrumental in breaking up the marriage of the other, and yet, I liked them both.

For me though, despite the beautiful messages and liking the two women, I found Sight Reading incredibly easy to put down.  It flows nicely enough but it didn't get me invested in the lives of the characters.  I like to feel that investment; to care, but also to be so entranced with their stories that I can't wait to get back to it if interrupted.  Sight Reading didn't do that for me.  It's a good book, just not rivetingly fabulous, not for me anyway.

Daphne Kalotay is the author of the novel Russian Winter, which won the Writers’ League of Texas Fiction Award and has been published in twenty languages, and the fiction collection Calamity and Other Stories, which was short-listed for the Story Prize. A MacDowell fellow, Daphne holds a PhD in modern and contemporary literature and an MA in creative writing, both from Boston University, and has received fellowships from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, Yaddo, and the Bogliasco Foundation. She has taught literature and creative writing at Boston University, Skidmore College, Middlebury College, and Grub Street. Co-president of the Boston chapter of the Women’s National Book Association, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Find out more about Daphne at her website, and be sure to like her on Facebook!

Facebook pageauthor's website,

Interested in other reviews of Sight Reading, here's  the tour schedule.


  1. Books that have good life advice end up being my all time favorites. Kind of interesting since I don't much enjoy self-help books, but I love to see it in fiction! :)

    Thanks for being on the tour!

  2. good to know some new releases! thanks for sharing! i've added it to my summer list!!

  3. good to know some new releases! thanks for sharing! i've added it to my summer list!!

  4. Hello І am so delighteԁ I found your blog, Ӏ гeallу found you by mistaκe, whіle I
    was bгowsing on Yahoo for something еlsе, Anyways I аm herе
    now and would ϳust lіke to ѕay many thаnks for
    a mаrvelous pоst and a all гound exсiting
    blog (I also lοve the theme/design), I dοn't have time to go through it all at the minute but I have bookmarked it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a lot more, Please do keep up the superb work.

    my blog post :: hcg dieters
    my webpage :: diet programs comparisons

  5. Keep on writing, great job!

    Also visit my weblog ... automobile workshop ()


Hey there! Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate all my visitors and your comments so please introduce yourself, ask or make suggestions. I'd love to hear from you. This blog is a no-award zone. I appreciate the acknowledgment but your kind words are enough.

No spam please!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...