This novel blew me away. At first, I fell in love with it based on the cover, but by the end of the first narrative (each part is broken into narration by members of the quartet), I was head over heels for the group and the words Aja Gabel used to piece their lives together.
In The Ensemble, each character picks up the melody, from the group’s 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 together—by career, by the intensity of their art, by the secrets they carry together, and by choosing each other over and over again. (Goodreads)
I have no musical background, save for a semester in middle school playing trumpet so horrifically the director must have thought giving me last chair was generous. I have no familiarity or investment in the world of professional classical music. But. Gabel is able to describe music and all the processes and emotions that come with it in such a way that is not only beautiful, but sensory.
With The Ensemble, Gabel alternates between narration by each member of the quartet: Jana, Brit, Henry, and Daniel. Usually, when an author does this, I prefer one voice over the rest. But here, each character was so complex and interesting and fully human - I was never disappointed when the narration shifted.
I expected to love this moving story of four people linked together by their shared passion - I didn't expect it to become one of my favorite books. Like Top Three favorite, if books can be ranked as such. It is such a phenomenal and impressive debut novel. I'll be holding my breath until Aja Gabel releases her next piece of work.
The Ensemble by Aja Gabel comes out on May 15. A thousand thank yous to Riverhead for sending me this novel in exchange for an honest review.