Friday, July 17, 2020

Review: Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel

Title: Musical Chairs
Author: Amy Poeppel
Published: July 2020, Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Format: ARC E-copy, 416 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

The “quick-witted and razor-sharp” (Taylor Jenkins Reid, New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones & The Six) author of Limelight and Small Admissions returns with a hilarious and heartfelt new novel about a perfectly imperfect summer of love, secrets, and second chances.

Bridget and Will have the kind of relationship that people envy: they’re loving, compatible, and completely devoted to each other. The fact that they’re strictly friends seems to get lost on nearly everyone; after all, they’re as good as married in (almost) every way. For three decades, they’ve nurtured their baby, the Forsyth Trio—a chamber group they created as students with their Juilliard classmate Gavin Glantz. In the intervening years, Gavin has gone on to become one of the classical music world’s reigning stars, while Bridget and Will have learned to embrace the warm reviews and smaller venues that accompany modest success.

Bridget has been dreaming of spending the summer at her well-worn Connecticut country home with her boyfriend Sterling. But her plans are upended when Sterling, dutifully following his ex-wife’s advice, breaks up with her over email and her twin twenty-somethings arrive unannounced, filling her empty nest with their big dogs, dirty laundry, and respective crises.

Bridget has problems of her own: her elderly father announces he’s getting married, and the Forsyth Trio is once again missing its violinist. She concocts a plan to host her dad’s wedding on her ramshackle property, while putting the Forsyth Trio back into the spotlight. But to catch the attention of the music world, she and Will place their bets on luring back Gavin, whom they’ve both avoided ever since their stormy parting.

With her trademark humor, pitch-perfect voice, and sly perspective on the human heart, Amy Poeppel crafts a love letter to modern family life with all of its discord and harmony. In the tradition of novels by Maria Semple and Stephen McCauley, Musical Chairs is an irresistibly romantic story of role reversals, reinvention, and sweet synchronicity.

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Amy Poeppel, though I do have one of her other books sitting on my shelf. I don't know why I haven't read her before as her writing style is light and humorous, yet still has some substance to it.

This is the type of book I enjoy reading - a book that deals with the messiness of family drama, but never gets too bogged down with any one particular issue. I loved that while Bridget is the main character, we still hear from other characters' points of view. This allowed for a great perspective into each character and what they were really dealing with. This book takes a look at family and what it really means. I loved all the different relationships that we see here - some that were already established and some that develop during the book. 

Change is a big theme in this book and I love how it was handled. Let's face it, most people don't deal with chance well and so you can imagine how our characters are going to deal with it. As you might expect, some of the changes are handled well and some not so well, but it was interesting to see how each character does handle things, especially since they are all at different points in their lives and each change affects them differently.

This book was full of quirky, fun, memorable characters, some that are larger than life and others that just hang out in the background. And the witty dialogue and banter keeps the story moving at quite a quick pace. 

I highly recommend picking this book up for summer reading - it's really a great escape read and would make a great book club read, too. There's really lots of areas for discussion. In the meantime, I definitely plan on reading Amy's backlist sooner rather than later!


1 comment

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