Mr. Beethoven

Review by Julia Stoneham

“What?” I asked myself. “Who? When? Where? Boston. USA? Beethoven? A new oratorio?”

Relax! Try running those familiar facts on new lines. And behold! A beguiling concept lies before you. Delicate, witty, passionate and impossible to forget.

Mr Griffiths, to put it bluntly, knows his onions. He respects history as much as he reveres the composer himself, while he evokes his account of a story of Beethoven’s imaginary sojourn in 19th-century Boston.

We meet the movers and shakers (warts and all) of Boston’s emerging musical society and follow the course of relationships between the composer, his hosts, his librettist, young lip-reader and of a tender kindred spirit in the form of a widow, a soulmate, soon to be lost to him when the composer sets sail back to Europe.

The structure and writing of this novel are captivating and resonant with properly, imaginatively used facts. It is both subtle and forthright. Paul Griffiths tells his story so endearingly and persuasively that reading it is an unblemished joy.

If Mr Beethoven didn’t go to Boston he should have done. Do I believe in fairies? Yes…