Book Review: The Lost Melody

The Lost Melody by Joanna Davidson Politano is a riveting journey that sheds light on both the cruel history of women being committed to asylums unnecessarily (see The Woman They Could Not Silence for more on this), but also of the power of music to set us free.

From the back of the book:

When concert pianist Vivienne Mourdant’s father dies, he leaves to her the care of an adult ward she knew nothing about.

The woman is supposedly a patient at Hurstwell Asylum. The woman’s portrait is shockingly familiar to Vivienne, so when the asylum claims she was never a patient there, Vivienne is compelled to discover what happened to the figure she remembers from childhood dreams.

The longer she lingers in the deep shadows and forgotten towers at Hurstwell, the fuzzier the line between sanity and madness becomes. She hears music no one else does, receives strange missives with rose petals between the pages, and untangles far more than is safe for her to know. But can she uncover the truth about the mysterious woman she seeks? And is there anyone at Hurstwell she can trust with her suspicions?

Fan-favorite Joanna Davidson Politano casts a delightful spell with this lyrical look into the nature of women’s independence and artistic expression during the Victorian era–and now.

As a musician myself, I thoroughly enjoyed how the author not only wrote about music and musicians but also used music to tell the story. Her storytelling kept me engaged the entire time (and I read it in one day because I had to know what was going to happen). Most importantly, I appreciated how she brought awareness to this dark part of western history – one about which I wasn’t aware until the past year – where healthy and sane women were kept in institutions and gaslit about their mental stability. There were moments when I wondered if Vivienne was actually sane as she was questioning it herself.

Overall, I was touched by the messages of redemption, the impact of grief, and of not giving up on people. This book is relatable in many ways and has lessons and wisdom to share with anyone who reads it.

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