The Kreutzer Sonata: A Novel

The Kreutzer Sonata: A Novel

by Margriet de Moor

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With an “astute sense of musical form and a wonderful sense of passion” (New York Times Book Review), master storyteller Margriet de Moor, one of Europe’s foremost novelists, once again brings us a richly imagined and highly original tale of passion and jealousy.

The unnamed narrator, a young musicologist, meets and befriends the famous


With an “astute sense of musical form and a wonderful sense of passion” (New York Times Book Review), master storyteller Margriet de Moor, one of Europe’s foremost novelists, once again brings us a richly imagined and highly original tale of passion and jealousy.

The unnamed narrator, a young musicologist, meets and befriends the famous blind music critic Marius van Vlooten. Their first encounter is on an airplane en route to a master class in Bordeaux, where the narrator introduces Marius to Suzanna, the pretty first violinist of a string quartet there to perform Janácek’s Kreutzer Sonata. From this chance meeting, a passionate love affair soon develops between Marius and Suzanna. They become engaged and marry.

A series of subsequent conversations between Marius and the narrator reveals the truth behind Marius’s blindness: when he was a young student, he had fallen madly in love with a girl who spurned him. Despairing, he tried to commit suicide, but succeeded only in blinding himself. Now, ten years later, Marius is prey to another terrible dilemma: he loves Suzanna desperately, but, strongly suspecting she has a lover, becomes insanely jealous. His suspicions and his past draw him—and the reader—into a dramatic and tense Hitchcockian vertigo, where the tragedy plays itself out.

This subtly constructed novel evokes powerful emotions through what the characters see and don’t see, but mostly through what they hear—the language of music.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“A fascinating novel . . . de Moor’s astonishing delivery of each brilliant story makes for a thrilling reading experience.”
Seattle Times/Post-Intelligencer

Kathryn Harrison
A gracefully economical stylist, de Moor works on the periphery of realism, satisfying both narrative and aesthetic agendas; she's that rare literary novelist whose books are fun to read. And while aspects of The Kreutzer Sonata strain credulity, this seems to be the deliberate intention of a writer very much in control of her material. The authority with which de Moor creates her characters and the uncluttered scenes they inhabit give her work an almost journalistic immediacy.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Dutch novelist de Moor (Duke of Egypt) traces narrative arabesques around the terrible romantic jealousy suffered by a blind music critic in this spare, delicate novel. In a series of chance encounters at European airports over the years, the musicologist narrator meets the famous blind patrician music critic, Marius van Vlooten, and extracts his history of tortured love. The first encounter elicits the desperate tale of unrequited love that drove Marius, as a student years before, to shoot himself in the head, thus blinding himself. The acquaintance between the two travelers continues briefly, allowing the narrator to introduce Marius to lovely Suzanna Flier, first violinist of the Schulhoff Quartet, who becomes Marius's wife. Ten years later, on the way to the Salzburg Festival, the narrator learns that Suzanna has left Marius because he tried to kill her, his jealousy roused by her love (he claims) for the violist in her quartet. Marius's obsession with Jan cek's Kreutzer sonata provides the novel's leitmotif; according to the critic, "wayward modernist" Jan cek "put things in his music that were meant not only for the listening ear but also for the inner eye." De Moor's slender, suspenseful narrative frequently shifts settings and moods, but Marius's id e fixe burns with a constant fire. Though de Moor sometimes stokes the blaze too high, this is an involving, passionate tale. (Feb.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The mysterious, romantic tale of love and jealousy that inspired Leo Tolstoy to write the novella The Kreutzer Sonata after hearing Beethoven's affecting work of the same name is being retold by de Moor (The Virtuoso) in her novel. Twenty years after Tolstoy wrote his story of envy and murder, composer Leos Jan cek wrote a piece of music for a quartet also called the Kreutzer Sonata. Each instrument represents a person in the story: narrator, husband, wife, and wife's lover. Here, in an interesting twist to the story, the husband, Marius, is a tragic unrequited lover for years before meeting his wife, Suzanna. In a failed suicide attempt, he blinds himself. This disability later prevents Marius from murdering Suzanna when he becomes insanely jealous of another member of the quartet, thereby bringing to life the story behind the music. Told in passionate, elegant prose, de Moor's ninth novel is highly recommended to music lovers as well as readers who enjoy a well-crafted tale told with grace and beauty.-Lisa Rohrbaugh, East Palestine Memorial P.L., OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A troubled union of two artistic temperaments feels "the powerful effects of music on our emotions," in an elegant short novel from the internationally acclaimed Dutch author (Duke of Egypt, 2002, etc.). De Moor's story is a subtly elusive composition centered in two meetings, ten years apart, between the unnamed narrator, an earnest musicologist, and Marius van Vlooten, an unusually self-reliant blind music critic. They first meet when stranded together at an Amsterdam airport while awaiting a delayed flight to Bordeaux, where both are to attend a master class for string quartets. Van Vlooten reveals the cause of his blindness (a botched suicide attempt, over a failed love affair). The narrator introduces the critic to beautiful young violinist Suzanna Flier. As he later learns, the two fall in love and wed, but endure a tempestuous marriage marred by her casual (possibly adulterous?) relations with colleagues and his seething jealousy-in a manner echoing the plot of Tolstoy's mordant novella The Kreutzer Sonata (inspired by a Beethoven chamber work and itself the source of Leos Janacek's 1927 string quartet, which Suzanna performs, brilliantly). The details of "this spiral of passion and fate" emerge when the two men cross paths a decade later, as each is en route to the Salzburg Music Festival. The story is then concluded "sixteen years later" as the narrator-alone this time aboard an airplane-reads a newspaper account of the incident that ended the tortured "sonata" played (as it were) by Suzanna and Marius. It's a deliciously conceived and executed mystery, seasoned with acute perceptions of how both music and life are seen, heard, and imperfectly experienced and understood bywhatever senses humans command. And it's a strikingly ingenious homage to the great originals (and copies) of Beethoven, Tolstoy, and Janacek. De Moor is rapidly becoming one of the world's finest novelists.

Product Details

Arcade Publishing
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
4.50(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Margriet de Moor is a Dutch writer, pianist, classical singer, and artist. She is the author of many short stories, essays, and novels. All six of her novels have been international bestsellers, and she is the recipient of the Gouden Ezelsoor and the AKO Literature Prize. She resides in Bussum, a small town in the province of North Holland in the Netherlands.

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