The girl with the violin by Shelley Davidow

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Set in 1989, at the time of the fall of the Berlin wall, Susanna is an aspiring Australian violin student, winner of a scholarship to study in Berlin with Stefan Heinemeyer, a renowned musician 17 years her senior whom she admires immensely and secretly desires. There is a complication, there is a historical connection between the two of them: she is the granddaughter of Mirla a Jewish woman who died in the Buchenwald concentration camp, and he is the grandson of a Nazi officer stationed at that same camp. But perhaps their love can overcome the past, just as the Berlin wall is being dismantled, and two different worlds are reconciled.

However while Susanna is strong and determined in achieving what she wants, there is also an element of insecurity that means as a young person she does not know how to handle the meanness of a demanding landlady or the maliciousness of a rejected boyfriend. That combination of naïve passion and scared avoidance makes Susanna a very human and relatable person. And disaster follows.

Davidow’s book is structured like a musical composition: first movement, second movement, third movement and coda. They are different phases in Susanna’s life. The coda brings completeness, acceptance and understanding. There is not the usual predictable ‘happy every after’ romantic ending but a resolution of differences and an amazing sense of understanding and forgiveness that comes with stepping outside of oneself and realising another person’s point of view. Davidow has created a beautiful story that will be appreciated by many readers.

Themes: Romance, Love, Music, Violinists, Trauma, Forgiveness, Berlin Wall.

Helen Eddy