Recommended (again) by: http://melissasbookreviews.com
You know, books like these are the reason I am so convinced that I don’t like historical fiction. It’s just not my thing, I assure myself, and then something comes along (like The Book Thief, or Indian Captive, or The Poisonwood Bible, or Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell if that counts) and screws up that whole idea and makes me think, You enormous dumbass, of course you love historical fiction. And then I read something like Liszt’s Kiss and realize I was right the first time.
I guess what I don’t like is historical romances. And I would never, ever have read this, it being a historical romance, if the aforementioned Melissa, who liked The Blue Castle, hadn’t said that Liszt’s Kiss made her want to play the piano again. What a recommendation. And it made me think, well, hey, this is probably less a historical romance than a love song to piano-playing, and I like music, so what the hell.
But I didn’t like it.
Now, of course, a lot of that has to do with the fact that I just don’t like historical romances. They’re not the kind of books I like to read, and they never have been. I don’t care for this whole genre of writing about the thrilling (but fictional) amours of real historical figures; I’m sure there are exceptions to this, but I can’t think of any right now. I like it much better when it’s all fictional characters in a historical setting, and there really is no part of me that gets all excited when there’s a cameo, or a bit part, or a long part, by someone I love In History. I always want to write a letter to the author and say “Is that seriously what you think Oscar Wilde [or whoever] was like? You have just totally missed the point, you crazy wacko.”
(Which is unfair. Not in the case of Oscar Wilde, because no one writes about Oscar Wilde right in fiction, but in many other cases.)
Mary Renault being a massive exception that I have just thought of, because I’ve been in love with Fire from Heaven and The Persian Boy for many moons now, and her Alexander is wonderful, and she writes relationships better than anyone else ever (that I can think of right now), so I shouldn’t really go by her. And his affairs are true.
Well, my point is that I wasn’t the target audience for this, so no surprise I didn’t enjoy it, plus I was in Atlanta for my grandfather’s funeral and in no mood to branch out into new genres (the other things I read while I was there were The Nuremberg Interviews and the entire Betsy-Tacy series from start to finish except for Betsy and the Great World because I felt too sad about Betsy and Joe having a fight after all the time it took for them to get together).
Liszt’s Kiss wasn’t badly written or stupid or annoying. Just not my thing at all. My only rational objection, actually, was that – and this may easily have had to do with the fact that my brain was tired – I got really cross when I reached the end and found out the father was good all along. I was like, “Hey! You said he was evil!” because all along the book had carried on being all Intrigue & Deception and then suddenly it went all mystery-novel-surprise-ending on me. Which annoyed me very much when it happened and I was composing scathing comments in my head, but I’ve had time to cool off and I don’t think it was that much of a sudden unfair genre switch as I was thinking when I read it.