Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Transitions: Dissonance a novel by Lisa Lenard-Cook

Lisa Leanard-Cook’s novel, Dissonance, is a symphony with familiar themes performed in 21st Century motif. It is a story of transitions brought on by intervals of character relationships that are not complete, that beg resolution and harmony. It may take a life time to resolve the dissonance of safety and horror, love and loss, sharing and repression, religiosity and isolation, self-acceptance and doubt, peace and war. Some characters make their transitions sooner than others, but all are drawn toward personal harmony.

 The questions that the characters ask themselves involve the structures of their lives. Like 20th Century symphonies, the ambitious actions of their lives may involve a dramatic first movement of early development, a lyrical second period of love and adulthood, a dance-like third movement of career and talent expressiveness, and a rousing triumphant achievement of goals. However, the 21st Century symphonic structure may reflect more complex symphonies with unpleasant dissonance mixed with harmony and more than four movements. Characters’ lives may be chaotic requiring tolerance of ambiguity, fear, and self-doubt. But even these complex psychological states seem to drive the characters toward harmonic resolution of their relationships.

 The structure of the novel is contemporary, involving short sections within long chapters. Time periods are in the sections covering pre-World War II in Europe, the holocaust, the development of nuclear weapons, and current nuclear research in New Mexico. The importance of the performance of music of the main character Anna Kramer is presented through her own behaviors and observations. Enhancement of Anna’s appreciation of listening to music and her performance as a pianist is revealed in an epistolary style as she reacts to a diary and sheet music she inherits from a virtuoso pianist and Jewish holocaust survivor Hana Weissova.

This is a very good short novel (149 pages) and I recommend it highly. Readers do not have to have a special knowledge of musical terms and may gain some new knowledge about classical music.

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