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"Poet and musician Jessica ...
"Poet and musician Jessica Bell's debut novel String Bridge is a rich exploration of desire, guilt, and the difficult balancing act of the modern woman. The writing is lyrical throughout, seamlessly integrating setting, character and plot in a musical structure that allows the reader to identify with Melody's growing insecurity as her world begins to unravel… a powerful debut from a promising writer, full of music, metaphor, and just a hint of magic." Magdalena Ball of The Compulsive Reader, author of "Sleep Before Evening"
Posted April 21, 2012
Literary fiction and music! How could I resist this one?
Debut author Jessica Bell is also a guitarist/songwriter, which lends a ton of credibility to String Bridge, the story of a musician turned wife and mom who has given up on music for her other duties. I so easily related to Melody as I did the same with my writing for so many years after marriage and children. I tuned right in (pun intended) to her distress at losing herself as she gave up her passion, to the emptiness and how the longer she drifted away from who she was, the harder it was to give to others, to relate to them. Exactly right. Any artist of any genre will fully understand.
I'd like to give it a 5 because of the depth of emotion and nailing so precisely how so many women feel when they abandon themselves for their families. However, there were a few things that threw it a bit. The first half is very slow and overly descriptive. I enjoy description when it lends itself to the story. However, when it goes so far as to describe every footfall and the way a rag sounds as it is dropped into the sink, for no apparent reason, I get a little edgy. I also found myself getting annoyed at her constant inner whining about the same things all through the first half. To be honest, I didn't like Melody much by around the fourth chapter.
But then things picked up. The first half took me several nights to get through. The second half I read all in one night because I didn't put it down until the end. In some ways, I thought it was a bit rushed and the end was fairly predictable after the big climax, if a little too coincidental. But I did like Melody again as she picked herself up and started to DO something about her misery.
Overall, it was a nice read with plenty to ponder and I loved the realism of the music world and the locations due to personal author experience. A recommended read. I look forward to more of Bell's work.
Posted December 20, 2011
At the end of the first page, the last two sentences are: 'It's time to live as if I were music, and if music were wind. It's time to live in a hurricane'. I thoroughly recommend reading 'String Bridge'. It follows Melody Hill's life, an Australian living in Athens, Greece with her daughter and Greek husband. I loved the way Jessica Bell created the scenes of daily life, that all of us live. We follow Melody through her indecisive moments where she questions her life and what is important. She is a wife and a mother, but she has her guitar in the corner of her bedroom, untouched for four years. What will Melody do? Will she try and return to music or will she focus on her career. You will have to buy it and read it yourself.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 18, 2011
I have to say when Jessica first asked me to read the book for a review, I was slightly hesitant because ... well, I'm not much of a women's fiction sort of gal. But upon reading the very first sentence, I was hooked. Which is yet another thing that doesn't usually happen to me.
By the end of the first chapter, I had bonded with Melody in a way I have rarely bonded with a character before. At least not one that wasn't of my own creation. Jessica packed a pretty solid punch. Melody, or Mel, is a wife, a mother and is working to make ends meet in a career she really didn't want. When she met her husband, Alex, she hoped that his being a promoter would help her get some gigs. Stage fright be damned.
Mel gets pregnant and has a beautiful daughter, smart as a whip, too! But what really connected me to Mel (aside from her name of course) was the fact that she was worried about ending up like her mother. Mel's mother has some serious issues, not your typical mother picking on daughter kind of issues either. The sort of things that make you want to call up your own mother and say, "OMG thanks for not being like THIS!".
I can't say much more without spoiling the book. But I will say I cried when Mel cried, I celebrated when Mel celebrated, I became frustrated when Mel became frustrated and angry when Mel became angry. There were lots of different things that happened to Melody that I have had happen to me, so I connected on lots of different levels there. But Jessica's outstanding talent brought it all home to me, pulled me in and allowed me to share in this woman's life. I got to peek inside the windows and watch events unfold.
Thanks, Jessica, for asking me to read this book. Thank you for writing it and for having the courage to submit it to be published. Excellent book! I am certainly going to recommend this book as much as possible.
Posted November 18, 2011
A poignantly written tale of family, marriage, love, betrayal, and the inner strength of one woman's human spirit to find her true place in her world. I primarily read young adult and middle grade fiction, because of my love for the raw innocence within that age group. Saying that, I found String Bridge to have a similar pureness I look for when reading children's literature. The characters are well developed with meaningful and realistic inner struggles that a reader can easily relate to. Melody is a woman with a beautiful daughter and wonderful husband. She has a fantastic job doing something she loves to do--write and edit. But despite the coverall of a perfect, domestic life, she longs for the life she left behind--her music. Through reading Melody's thoughts and past experiences, the reader discovers that Melody left behind more than just her music when she decided to marry and start a family. She abandoned a part of her soul, the part that music freed up inside her. The author's portrayal of Melody's search for inner self, purpose, and meaning, is at times gut-wrenching almost pithy, but always honest and true. The stormy pieces of her relationship with her mom add to the emotional depth and show how some childhood wounds simply never heal. There's an elegance in Melody's pain over her mother's selfish ways. Melody's longing to find peace with her mother foreshadows her need for personal acceptance in who she is as a mom, wife, daughter, and musician. Along with this and trying to balance motherhood and work, tensions escalate within her marriage, making her question every decision she's ever made. And when tragedy strikes where she lest expects it, Melody realizes that life is a string of never-ending bridges in one's life and crossing each bridge is choosing to live.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 18, 2011
I have to tell you I love Jessica's voice! She'll make you feel like she ripped your heart out! Her writing tunes you into every feeling you've ever had, both in her poetry book, Twisted Velvet Chains (which I bought about a month ago) and her novel, String Bridges . I was so pleased to find some of her poetry in her newest novel, String Bridges. I asked if I could share one of those poems with you. Of course, she said yes...
I used to thrive on hate
until I learned to love
I used to bite my tongue
until betrayal scarred
I used to feel selfish
til you proved it weren't
Look at this.
Look at this selfish heartbreak.
Look at this.
Look as this selfish heart break.
You destroyed what I learned to value most
the reason behind my
Posted November 17, 2011
I got the ARC in the mail on Saturday, started the first chapter that night, and couldn't stop thinking about it. Sunday afternoon I decided would be reading day. It had been a hectic week, I deserved a reading day! I was eager to get completely immersed in the world that Jessica Bell so skillfully created in her debut novel STRING BRIDGE.
The writing is deep and beautiful, with imagery and details that make the characters come alive and move the narrative along seamlessly. Bell writes literary fiction, but don't let that stop you. I realize that some literary writing is self-conscious, overdone, lacking in plot and well, just plain dull. Not this book! String Bridge has a strong narrative that kept me turning pages to see what happens next with Melody and Alex, the troubled couple living in Athens, raising a precocious and adorable (omigosh she is so dang cute!) little girl named Tessa.
Woven through the relationship between Melody and Alex is the complex relationship that Melody has with her bipolar mother, and the fears that she will become like her own mother and do irreparable damage to Tessa. In fact, Melody is so afraid of being hurt by those she loves that she effectively creates barriers to protect herself. It's not until tragedy strikes that Melody begins to understand how very much she did love and was loved in return.
The last novel that moved me and engaged me to this extent was Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy. Like Conroy, Jessica Bell is a brilliant writer of great skill and depth. She doesn't pull back from the difficult scenes, from conflict, pain, intensity. She puts it all out there, no holds barred, no holding back. She knows how to craft a scene, how to develop character, how to create suspense. This is an absolutely brilliant debut novel. I look forward to reading her next novel, and next and next.
Posted October 24, 2011
Jessica Bell's STRING BRIDGE is a beautifully tragic tale of desire, music, and love.
Melody, an Australian living in Greece, decides she wants it all: to combine who she used to be with who she is now. She's ready to pick up her guitar again and play gigs as well as pursue a chance to further her editorial career while being a wife and mother. Yet nothing is life is ever so simple. As she searches for the bridge to secure her two halves, she will have to lose it all to find herself.
STRING BRIDGE is edgy musicality. Bell uses every word to spin its poetic prose, and they should be savored. Emotions fill the characters, laughing, crying, anger. The characters seem so real. For me, the pace slows in the middle, but the surprise of what sparks the last part of the book speeds the end to fruition. I love how Melody discovers her strength through tragedy. This literary novel bursts with wonderful imagery, particularly the bridge of a guitar to life.
STRING BRIDGE by Jessica Bell sings a raw, tragic song that crescendos into hope and love. I recommend it to readers who love poetic prose and characters driven to the edge and back again.
Posted November 9, 2011
No text was provided for this review.