While war can bring out the worst in people, Sarah Quigley manages to show the mostly good hearted instinct of the people of Leningrad when during World War 2 Hitler surrounded and closed down their city.
In The Conductor, she demonstrates how passions can drive human beings to strive beyond their limits to achieve their heart’s desire. In this novel you will share with Dmitri Shostakovich as he works to express and complete the symphony he can feel in his head and his heart. You will share the yearning of a widowed father who fears for his missing daughter. You will also witness a conductor who is part of both these men’s lives, who has never quite believed in himself, yet finds within himself the strength to take his second tier orchestra to their greatest performance ever.
The descriptions of life in Leningrad as Hitler turns his attentions to Russia are clear and evocative of real life. This fictionalisation is Quigley’s own creation. She has taken some key facts and woven a story with a strong theme of the joy of music. The journey is concise and beautifully told. The attached CD of Shostakovich’s 7th symphony also adds a rather beautiful dimension to your reading.
by Sarah Quigley
Reviewed by Andrew Rumbles Dymocks Ponsonby