Jules Lacour has lived a life fenced in by tragedy. As a child, both of his parents were shot in the street in front of his eyes during the last days of the German occupation. He was raised by genealogically and emotionally distant relatives. He served in the French army in Algeria. He enjoyed decades of marriage to a woman he loved with all his heart, only to lose her to a long illness. His career as a cellist and composer, while comfortable, has brought him neither recognition nor wealth. He has a daughter, with whom he has a good relationship, but who does not and will never understand him. His only grandson is slowly dying, in a France where their Jewish people are rapidly disappearing. Jules loves France, loves Paris, loves his family, loves his few remaining friends, loves music, loves his students. He is quick to love and loyal to what he loves - to what has gone before - loyal to death and beyond.

Helprin deftly manages shifting between genres including satire, crime drama, and romance. The setbacks and betrayals Jules continues to suffer throughout the novel are contrasted with his continual attention to - and devotion to - beauty, creating a portrait of a life and a world that are far from perfect and yet infinitely precious.

dennismmiller's rating:
[]
[]
To Top