2019 American Fiction Awards Winner in Women's Fiction
2020 Feathered Quill Book Awards Silver Winner in Women’s Fiction
2020 National Indie Excellence Awards winner in Friendship
“Romain’s enchanting debut delves into the complex personalities of two friends living in the mountains of central Mexico. Callie Quinn is an anxiety-ridden expatriate American nearing fifty, and Armando García is a vivacious thirty-year-old orchestral musician. . . . Romain’s insights into the characters’ flaws enrich this story of friendship, along with prose that is sometimes droll, often fervent, and always engrossing.”
“An arresting novel about tightly wound secrets and the art of letting go of them.”
“The Trumpet Lesson is a beautiful literary novel focused on healing and the families that are forged abroad.”
—Foreword Clarion Reviews
“Dianne Romain’s daring and delightful first novel, The Trumpet Lesson, crosses boundaries, opens wounds, and heals them, too. This is a book for anyone who has known the pains and joys of families, both old and new. Are there lessons in this book that moves gracefully from Missouri to Mexico? Indeed there are. Those who go below the surface of the narrative will find them, and they will be amply rewarded for their efforts.”
—Jonah Raskin, author of A Terrible Beauty: The Wilderness of American Literature
“The Trumpet Lesson is an adventure of the heart set in the heart of Mexico: Guanajuato, the historic city of music and books, Diego Rivera’s childhood home, rocket blasts into dazzling blue skies, and where an avocado might hit you on the head or a papaya squish underfoot! Romain knows the secrets and wonders of this UNESCO World Heritage site, and she tells the story of Callie Quinn with aplomb.”
—C.M. Mayo, author of The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire
“I fell in love with Dianne Romain’s debut novel, The Trumpet Lesson. I couldn’t resist her delightfully quirky and endearing characters. And under the lightness of her lovely imagery and lively prose lives a tender story about the immensity of loss and the redeeming power of truth. As an adoptive mother, I know the joy, profound loss, and gratitude that connects adoptive and birth families—a complexity of relationship honestly explored in The Trumpet Lesson.”
—Sarah Lovett, author of the Dr. Sylvia Strange series
“Romain spins a tale of flight from truth-telling—truth-telling to others, truth-telling to one’s own heart—and of the harm this can do to both till such behavior is changed. Finely crafted, sensitively written, it is a story that will generate self-reflection in many readers.”
—Thomas M. Robinson, DLitt, DSLitt, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Classics, Universityof Toronto, and author of Plato’s Psychology
“Set in Guanajuato, Mexico, Romain’s The Trumpet Lesson chronicles expatriate Callie’s lifetime search for a daughter. Like the network of callejónes that connect surrounding neighborhoods to Guanajuato's city center, Romain’s masterful storytelling leads through secret, dark passages of the human soul, confronting embedded societal attitudes toward teenage pregnancy, adoption, race, and the power of family secrets. A story of mystery, love, and redemption.”
— Patricia Damery, analyst member of the C. G. Jung Institute of San Francisco and author of the forthcoming Fruits of Eden: Napa and the Quest for a Conscious Activism
“A beautiful story of a woman adapting to a foreign land, The Trumpet Lesson breathes with the authentic atmosphere of Guanajuato, colorful characters, how a trumpet lesson feels, musical lives, and plenty of philosophy. Bravo!”
—John Urness, soloist and principal trumpet of the State of Mexico Symphony Orchestra
“Try as she might, Callie’s plan to hide from life after a fateful decision is doomed. This witty, heartwarming ‘lesson’ in human nature navigates the complexity of guilt, regret, and longing. It shows how the heart will always find a way to form family, no matter how unconventional. All you have to do is learn to breathe . . . and perhaps buzz your lips.”
—Rita Dragonette, author of The Fourteenth of September
An arresting novel about tightly wound secrets and the art of letting go of them.
Callie Quinn is a mild-mannered translator working out of Guanajuato, Mexico. Her life is one of order and lists, and Romain (Thinking Things Through, 1996) populates it with colorful characters, including Armando Torres, a closeted gay drummer in an orchestra to whom she teaches French. A mission to recover Armando's dog, Tavelé, eventually forces Callie to recall a long-buried secret. Armando is convinced that Pamela Fischer, a new trumpeter in the orchestra, has stolen his dog and encourages Callie to go undercover as Pamela's new trumpet student to investigate. Armando's overwrought behavior toes the line of believability, but his charm and childlike nature contrast well with Callie's seriousness, making for an amusing, if sometimes-tense, dynamic. It turns out that Pamela, a black woman, was adopted, and Callie knows something of the sadness that permeates her music. As a white girl growing up in segregated Missouri in the 1960s, Callie was quiet and studious and sang in her church choir. Later, she met Noah, a young black man from a Kansas City church. Noah's family expected him to become a "leader in [their] community" and settle down with "a respectable Negro woman." Then Callie became pregnant with his child. In the present, when Callie's mother comes to visit, the neatly stacked obfuscations of Callie's life threaten to topple. Through evenly dispersed flashbacks, Romain clearly renders the complex racial dynamics of the times in which the characters lived. The novel sometimes edges toward melodrama, but the author's generous explorations of the Guanajuato landscape and the backgrounds of her secondary characters help to round out a subtle, satisfying story.
Romain's emotional tale brings the interior worlds of its female characters to life.