CLEARFIELD – The Books Sandwiched-In series for 2018, sponsored by the Clearfield Area Branch of AAUW, began at the Joseph & Elizabeth Shaw Public Library with a book review by Pat Bishop.
An avid reader, Bishop told her audience that she likes to find books that aren’t on “somebody’s list.” She noted that there are so many wonderful books out there that it is fun to search out less well-known reading treasures.
The gem that Bishop found to share with her audience was the novel Prague Sonata by Bradford Morrow. She commented on his beautiful writing style and meticulous research, evidenced by the accuracy of the story’s geographic and historic details.
Set during World War II and present day, Bishop characterized the book as a quest novel, explaining that the plot deals with something to be found with a search that leads from place to place.
The story begins in Prague during World War II and focuses on the young woman Otylie Bartosova, who is hurriedly packing to leave the city before the invading Nazis arrive.
In her possession is a handwritten musical composition of unknown origin, which she has inherited from her father.
In the hopes of saving the sonata manuscript from the Nazis, she tears it into three parts, giving one piece to her husband, who is leaving to join the resistance, and another section to her friend, who is fleeing to America.
The setting shifts to present-day New York City where the reader is introduced to Meta Taverner. She is a young musicologist who had studied to be a concert pianist.
An accident has damaged her hand, ending her dreams of performing in the great concert halls. But she still plays informally in nursing homes where she meets an elderly woman who gives her one part of the composition and charges her with finding the other two.
Meta goes to Prague on the trail of the missing pieces. There she meets an American journalist Garritt Mills, who joins her in her quest.
They interview elderly Prague residents, hoping they may remember Otylie or the tune, which Meta plays for them. But other music historians have learned of Meta’s inquiries, and not all of them are as ethical as she is.
The intrigue increases as Meta and Garritt strive to solve the mysteries of who composed the music, where are the missing pieces and who wants this manuscript.
Bishop left her audience wanting to read the book to discover the answers to these questions. Fortunately, a copy of Prague Sonata is available at Shaw Public Library.
Bishop ended her review with a one of her favorite quotes from the book. “Music has a magical way of collapsing years and bridging distances.”
Gwen Crandell, AAUW member, reminded the audience that next week’s Book Sandwiched-In program will be Wednesday, March 21 at 6:30 p.m.
The evening will feature Kristine Gasbarre, a DuBois native, who will discuss, among other things, her book that is coming out in June.
Punch and cookies will be served at a cost of $3. Reservations for the program may be placed at the front desk of Shaw Public Library or by calling 814-765-3271 by Monday, March 19 at 5 pm.