The addictive debut novel about four young friends navigating the cutthroat world of music and their complex relationships with each other, as ambition, passion, and love intertwine over the course of their lives.Brit is the second violinist, a beautiful and quiet orphan; the viola is Henry, a prodigy whos always had it easy; the cellist is Daniel, the oldest, the angry skeptic who sleeps around; and on first violin is Jana, their flinty, resilient leader. Together, they are the Van Ness String Quartet.In The Ensemble, each character picks up the melody, from the groups youthful rocky start through to adulthood. As they navigate devastating failures and wild success, heartbreak and marriage, triumph and loss, betrayal and enduring loyalty, they are always tied togetherby career, by the intensity of their art, by the secrets they carry together, and by choosing each other over and over again.Following these four unforgettable characters, Aja Gabels debut novel gives a behind-the-scenes look into the highly competitive, mysterious world of high-level musicians. The story of Brit and Henry and Daniel and Jana, The Ensemble is a heart-skipping portrait of ambition, friendship, and the tenderness of youth....
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The Ensemble Reviews
I was sent a copy of this book as a part of a Goodreads giveaway.
The Ensemble is a story about the lives of the four members of the Van Ness string quartet, and the depths of their relationships with each other and those around them. It's a book for musicians and non-musicians alike, but musicians will definitely appreciate this one more - not just for the writing and musical terms, but also for the dynamics of the quartet of itself. As someone who plays music with others, I've always felt as th ...more
Read via a Netgalley ARC
I really, really liked this, despite having like NO musical knowledge. Everything about it was just so interesting!
While the writing was lovely and strong a lot of what Gabel was trying to say got lost in technical musical terms. Also there wasn’t much of a plot. No driving narrative. Perhaps future efforts by Gabel will home her excellent writing while showing improvement in storytelling.
A wonderful peek into the life of a quartet. I find the concept of 4 acting as one such an interesting concept and heart wrenching at the same time. This is a gentle book to read. It isn’t a fast-paced thriller, and it isn’t an epic journey. This is very interesting story about interesting characters with a backdrop of music interpretation.
I did enjoy this book! “Jana, Brit, Daniel, Henry. They never would have been friends if they hadn’t needed one another. They would never have found one another except for the art that drew them together. They would never have become family without their love for the music, for one another.” This is the story of four people who meet in their 20’s, it tells the stories of their struggles, love relationships, inner demons, basically life! It was well written and the characters were well developed ...more
Being in a quartet seems more difficult than being in a marriage. There is so much to hold together, so much work to be done, so many boundaries to delicately cross with people who ask you for everything and yet who you are tired of walking on eggshells with, so much unexpected bodily wear, so much unspoken and necessary love in its mere existence.
I adored this book, wanted to return to it night after night, and am desperate for it to be out so I can talk to other people about it. I never grew ...more
Aja Gabel’s lyrical novel, The Ensemble, follows the Van Ness Quartet from their time at the conservatory into their adult lives as professional musicians. Brit, Henry, Daniel, and Jana are as unique as the instruments they play, but they are inextricably tied together through their music and their choice to play together in the quartet. For musicians, former musicians, fans of Mozart in the Jungle, this novel is for you.
It’s apparent that Gabel is a musician herself by the incre ...more
Friendship and relationships over decades- it reminds me of Meg Wolitzer's amazing THE INTERSTINGS centered around music vs camp.