At the novel's center: a uniquely fascinating woman, Triana--who once dreamed of becoming a great musician--and the demonic fiddler Stefan, tormented ghost of a Russian aristocrat, who begins to prey upon her, using his magic violin first to enchant, then to dominate and draw her into a state of madness through the music she loves.
But Triana understands the power of the music perhaps even more than does Stefan--and she sets out to resist Stefan and to fight not only for her sanity but for her life. The struggle draws them both into a terrifying supernatural realm where they find themselves surrounded by memories, by horrors, and by overwhelming truths. Battling desperately, they are at last propelled towards the novel's astonishing and unforgettable climax.
Violin is crowded with the history, the drama, the invention, and the romantic intensity that have become synonymous with Anne Rice at her incomparable best.
Even before the ghost, the violinist Stefan, comes to her, Triana Becker is haunted.
Anne Rice's eerie new novel "Violin" is filled with the ghosts of Triana's painful past - ghosts she has clung to in memory and in guilt. Her mother, long dead of alcoholism, her father of lingering illness.
Triana as child blames herself for their deaths, considers herself a murderer. Self-indulgence? Catholic pain? These are the questions that Rice unravels as she weaves the dark and desperate tapestry of Triana's life.
Triana as parent blames herself, too, for Lily - her young daughter, dead of cancer in California.
Triana as wife believes she killed her first marriage to Lev during the agony of their grief over Lily. And she is unable to save her second husband, already infected with AIDS from a blood transfusion when they marry.
By the time Stefan appears, we are already convinced of Triana's madness. And yet, is it madness, or the bold, indomitable spirit within a person that will not yield, that will not bend, that will seek, quest, struggle in the grand search for redemption?
Rice's novels are always compelling and provocative -- never more so than this, for this novel demands of the reader to reach deep into the core of Triana Becker. As Triana herself says, she is painfully sane - "that's the problem."
From the decaying splendor of her home in New Orleans, Triana finds the gift she never knew she had: the gift of sound, of music, of symphony. But that gift comes with a price, as Stefan leads her ultimately to Brazil and her destiny.
Like a symphony, the first stage is tuneup, the awful sawing of bow against string in delicious cacophony. Rice renders that in the streaming words and phrases of a woman seemingly gone mad; words, emotions and torments seem to scamper everywhere until they are finally drawn into the first clear, clean notes of the pure violin.
Rice's writing resonates with the undercurrent of provocative questions. Is the daughter Lily actually the author's own, rendered again as she was in Rice's Vampire writing? The tormented relationships with her three sisters -- how close to the edge of memoir has Rice drawn her bow?
As the violin plays on to its certain ovation, Rice the writer and Triana the naïve violinist, the middle-aged woman, widowed and childless and beyond childbearing, renders a symphony of words. Each movement, each phase of her life a separate whole, united by her own hand into the violinist's art.
And the author's.
Reviewed by Sandy Huseby.