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Appassionata by Eva Hoffman
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Selected as one of’s 20 Tantalizing Beach Reads
Selected as a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

Isabel Merton is a renowned concert pianist, whose performances are marked by a rare responsiveness to the complexities of her art, and its intensities of feeling. At the height of her career, she feels increasingly torn between the compelling musical realm she deeply inhabits, and her fragmented itinerant artist’s life, with its frequent flights, anonymous hotels, and brief, arbitrary encounters. Away from her New York home on a European tour, Isabel meets a political exile from a war-torn country, a man driven by a rankling sense of injustice and a powerful desire to vindicate his cause and avenge his people. As their paths cross in several cities, they are drawn to each other both by their differences and their seemingly parallel passions–until a menacing incident throws her into a creative crisis, and forces her to reevaluate his actions, and her own motives. In this story of contemporary love and conflict, Hoffman illuminates the currents and undercurrents of our time, as she explores the luminous and dark faces of romanticism, and those perennial human yearnings, frustrations, and moral choices that can lead to destructiveness, or the richest art. 

From the Hardcover edition.
Other Press; May 2009
272 pages; ISBN 9781590513514
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Title: Appassionata
Author: Eva Hoffman
His eyes become remote again, his mouth set. He turns away from her, and picks up a jagged stone and throws it, with surprising force, down into the small ravine. A faint sound reaches them, mixed with the unvarying, gurgling water. She follows the movement of his torso as he turns effortlessly with the extension of the throwing arm. Line of beauty, she thinks, line of grace. . . . The casual arc of the throwing arm seems to slow into a timelessness; and suddenly, as if in concert with the elongated curve, she feels a surge of longing so sudden and powerful that she’s afraid she’ll fall from it, that her chest will cave
in as from a blow.

Anzor’s eyes return to her, still occluded, still looking into another distance; then they gather toward a more focused light. His face is for a moment fully unmasked, and he directs at her a stare that takes her in with a kind of encompassing ferocity. She stares back. He is very near and at a great distance. She knows nothing about this man, except the sudden power of his presence. A line of attraction and danger seems to vibrate between them in a tense ostinato. She feels she could travel a long way along that line, beyond the dark glow of his gaze, and into whatever lies within. For a moment, their eyes lock.

Then the moment is over, and they start walking back to the car. On the way down the winding road, they talk politely, as people who are getting acquainted talk.

From the Hardcover edition.
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