Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel
Published: July 2020 – Atria/Emily Bestler Books
E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley
Bridget and Will have the kind of relationship that people envy: they’re loving, compatible, and completely devoted to each other. The fact that they’re strictly friends seems to get lost on nearly everyone; after all, they’re as good as married in (almost) every way. For three decades, they’ve nurtured their baby, the Forsyth Trio—a chamber group they created as students with their Juilliard classmate Gavin Glantz. In the intervening years, Gavin has gone on to become one of the classical music world’s reigning stars, while Bridget and Will have learned to embrace the warm reviews and smaller venues that accompany modest success.
Bridget has been dreaming of spending the summer at her well-worn Connecticut country home with her boyfriend Sterling. But her plans are upended when Sterling, dutifully following his ex-wife’s advice, breaks up with her over email and her twin twenty-somethings arrive unannounced, filling her empty nest with their big dogs, dirty laundry, and respective crises.
Bridget has problems of her own: her elderly father announces he’s getting married, and the Forsyth Trio is once again missing its violinist. She concocts a plan to host her dad’s wedding on her ramshackle property, while putting the Forsyth Trio back into the spotlight. But to catch the attention of the music world, she and Will place their bets on luring back Gavin, whom they’ve both avoided ever since their stormy parting.
With her trademark humor, pitch-perfect voice, and sly perspective on the human heart, Amy Poeppel crafts a love letter to modern family life with all of its discord and harmony. In the tradition of novels by Maria Semple and Stephen McCauley, Musical Chairs is an irresistibly romantic story of role reversals, reinvention, and sweet synchronicity. (publisher)
My take: I can’t do better than the publisher’s description so be sure to read it. Musical Chairs would make an enjoyable film. The characters are fairly strong, each unique yet relatable on some level. Multi-generational family dynamics are at the forefront and the Connecticut country house setting seems perfect. Each generation (almost to a person) is on the brink of a new direction – either in personal relationships, career, or residence. First-world problems seem to rain down on this privileged family which at first made me uncomfortable. But then the humor in Poeppel’s writing started to shine through and I breezed through the novel on a rainy Sunday. There are classical music references sprinkled throughout and I wondered if all readers would appreciate them – but, hey, isn’t that what the internet is for?? At any rate, I became invested in seeing how things would play out for these people. Again, this would be a film I’d see.
About the author:
Amy Poeppel is the author of Musical Chairs, Limelight and Small Admissions, which was first performed as a reading at the Actors Studio. Amy has worked as a stage actress and teacher and now lives with her husband and three sons in New York City and Frankfurt, Germany.