Inspired by the famous composer’s notebooks, this biographical novel offers “a perfect portrait of an irascible genius” and “revelatory fossils of the last year of Beethoven’s anguished life” (Edmund White)
Deaf as he was, Beethoven had to be addressed in writing, and he was always accompanied by a notebook in which people could scribble questions and comments. In a tour de force fiction invention,Conversations with Beethoventells the story of the last year of Beethoven’s life almost entirely through such notebook entries. Friends, family, students, doctors, and others attend to the volatile Maestro, whose sometimes unpredictable and often very loud replies we infer. A fully fleshed and often very funny portrait of Beethoven emerges. He struggles with his music and with his health; he argues with and insults just about everyone. Most of all, he worries about his wayward—and beloved—nephew Karl.
A large cast of Dickensian characters surrounds the great composer at the center of this wonderfully engaging novel, which deepens in the end to make a memorable music of its own.