I first read An Equal Music by Vikram Seth when I was about seventeen, and at the time I decided it was one of the best novels I’d ever read. I took it on holiday with me to revisit it and see whether I still liked it. It was good, but no longer groundbreakingly so; I’ve read so many great novels since leaving school that its effect has been somewhat diluted.
Michael is a musician who forms part of the Maggiore Quartet. They play together, travel together and perform together in the kind of relationship that’s specific to artists and performers. Michael enjoys his life, teaching the violin to sometimes-unwilling students when he isn’t practicing or performing, but he’s constantly haunted by the spectre of Helen, his long-lost love. He left her years ago in Venice, during a period of great emotional strain, and when he finally realised what he was missing, it was too late to win her back. But he’s never given up hope. Travelling through London on a bus one day, he sees Helen on the opposite bus and sets out to find her. Catching up with her proves surprisingly easy, and Michael decides to try to win her back. As is often the case in the face of sudden emotional excess, however, his priorities change and the rest of his world begins to unravel.
Certainly worth reading; my favourite book of Seth’s.