One of the best ways for readers to discover a new artist is to read the reviews–from professional reviewers and readers like themselves. Click on the titles below to read the complete critiques.
… Jones gracefully switches between George’s first-person account of the interview process and vivid third-person flashbacks to Beethoven’s earlier life. She is careful to show all sides of the maestro’s identity: his erratic behavior and penchant for making enemies but also his musical genius and perseverance in spite of his disability—just as George vows to Beethoven, “I’ll neither deify nor damn you.” The plot nimbly blends the historical record—with brief appearances from Beethoven’s sister-in-law Johanna and nephew Karl—and invented elements, like George’s relationship with the prostitute Gabrielle and the surprise consequences of his impersonation of a “Sir.” Although there’s been a misunderstanding about the nature of Hannah’s relationship with Beethoven, George nevertheless learns of the high regard in which the composer holds her—she inspired Leonore, the heroine of his only opera, Fidelio. The short Book 3, set in the United States after Beethoven’s death, feels mostly unnecessary, but it doesn’t detract from the overall quality of this charming picaresque.
The protagonist lovingly describes Beethoven as “an honest soul, lined with deep fissures and clumsy mendings”—which is just how he comes across in this deeply researched, accomplished work of historical fiction.
A brilliantly original, deftly crafted, engagingly entertaining novel from beginning to end, “My Interview with Beethoven”, which is unreservedly recommended for both personal reading lists and community library collections, impressively showcases author L. A. Hider Jones’ genuine flair for narrative driven historical fiction.
The great musician was not always so beloved in his country. In fact, this novel portrays him as a creative genius bordering on madness. His descent into deafness is torturous, and his relationships with women are tumultuous as well. George’s love life parallels that of Beethoven. Politics also plays a huge part in almost destroying Beethoven’s rise to fame. My Interview with Beethoven is rife with fact and fiction that creates a vivid, wild, beautiful and memorable historical novel.
I have previously stated my fascination with Beethoven. I see him as the most iconic figure in music, and a living monument of perseverance and tenacity. I think he is the closest thing to a rockstar ever to emerge from the classical music scene. The intensity of his Fifth Symphony is earth-shattering and the triumphant vibration of the Ode to Joy can literally bring nations together. If there is a name that is worthy of being called a musical titan, that name is Beethoven.
What fascinates me more than his unmistakable music, however, is the sheer humanity of Beethoven, the consuming passion within him, the stubbornness befitting a tortured soul, the desire to be the foremost of his craft, the thundering anger.
I had the pleasure of rediscovering this startlingly human Beethoven in the debut novel of Ms. L.A. Hider Jones. The book, called MY INTERVIEW WITH BEETHOVEN, is one of the most vivid historical novels I have ever had the pleasure to read. The premise is awesome, and tantalizing without being lurid, and it turns a story about Beethoven into a profound, humorous meditation about the nature of truth and what makes human beings tick.
I’ve listened to some of Beethoven’s famous works, but never known much about the man himself….expect that he was a bit eccentric! – well, upon reading this historical piece of fiction, I feel I know the man intimately! L.A. Hider Jones has created a masterpiece in its own rights – what a fantastic novel!
The story starts with a young boy named George. His brother had just died. His mother, Hanna, taken to a mental asylum, and his father, Robert, reveals to him that he isn’t his real father – Robert was informed by Grandpa Bekker (Hanna’s father) on his deathbed, that Beethoven, Hanna’s piano teacher back in Germany, was indeed George’s real father.
The young George was turfed out of his once family home, and sent to work at the local printing press.
George grew up and had ambitions of becoming a newspaper journalist, but after a drunken night he was replaced and sent packing. George decided he had to go and see his real father, with the intention of interviewing the man. His journey began and he boarded a ship to New York with an old family friend who knew Beethoven. He wrote a letter of recommendation and gave advice to George about how to approach Beethoven. Once in New York he parted with Beethoven’s friend named Malzel, and boarded a ship to Europe.
George travelled through Europe, getting to know Beethoven’s acquaintances and received several letters of recommendation. He stopped off to see his uncle, who owned a newspaper. He then travelled into Vienna, after being warned to stay away from the secret police and not to mention he is a newspaper man.
It proved very difficult obtaining an interview with Beethoven. He had sent three letters and all were unresponsive. Eventually he took the bull by the horns and decided to go to Beethoven’s address with the aid of a befriended ‘lady of the night’
At first Beethoven was angry with George when he found out he was a newspaper man, but he eventually warmed to George’s kind nature.
George decided early on that he didn’t want to reveal straight away that he was his son, so the interview progressed. Beethoven talked with passion about his music, his friendship with Prince Lichnowsky , his lovers, and his fight for custody for his nephew Karl, whom had a love hate relationship. He spoke of his failing health which was evident and the potions he took to try to remedy his hearing loss unsuccessfully over the years. His battle with liver disease and his lack of abstinence when it came to drinking beer and wine, which resulted in agonising abdominal pain.
Finally George confronted Beethoven with the news that he was his son. Again, at first Beethoven was furious, he felt cheated, believing this man was here on the pretence of interviewing him, and that alone.
Beethoven finally admitted he knew his mother and that his one and only opera was based on Hanna rescuing Beethoven – which she did in ‘real’ life upon a meeting one day – the last day they saw each other. Regrettably he informed George that it was impossible for him to be his child as the relationship never got as far as consummation.
Where would George go from here? Who was his real father? Would the secret police catch up with him? I’m afraid you’ll have to read the rest of the book to find out!!
This is L.A. Hider Jones’s first novel – I find that astonishing, for it truly is one of the best pieces of historical fiction I have ever read!
From cover – an attractive cover with a young Beethoven on the front, and an older Beethoven on the back cover – to contents – simply amazing piece of work!
I loved the way Beethoven was portrayed as a man in his later years, with regrets and lonesome. Yes he came across as eccentric, but nowadays maybe he would be classed as something like bi-polar? Whatever Beethoven’s problems, he was most certainly a genius – to be able to compose music by feeling vibrations! I really felt for Beethoven. I wanted to reach out to him and become his friend – that’s down to the brilliant work of the author!
I also loved the story of George. He had a sad upbringing and wanted some clarity in his life, but upon interviewing Beethoven, he didn’t get the outcome he was expecting, but, he gained knowledge and understanding from Beethoven. He loved this man, despite him not being his kin. He admired him and appreciated his music. He went to interview Beethoven a boy, and came out a man.
I won this book through a Goodreads Competition. This is a fair and honest review. I do hope the author reads, and likes it as much as I enjoyed her brilliant book! This is one for my bookcase. I will keep and always treasure it. ~ Ange
OMG! This book was so exciting to read. It not only took me on a journey to meet the great Beethoven and George, it has so much imagery in it, I felt like I was in Vienna and other worldly places. You are an amazing writer. I could see this novel as a movie, at some time. I would not be surprised. So much emotion, love, hate, challenges and sadness that my brain was taxed with information that could only come from years of research. Good job!!! Hopefully you are working on a second book. I can’t wait. This is a real winner. ~ Laurie
The least I can say is, I’m impressed beyond words. [The author] created a masterpiece. I know it’s a book I’ll read again. ~ Pauline
For me, the strongest aspect of this novel is clearly its plot… the really excellent pacing and momentum and drive. I think your novel possesses it in abundance. The whole thing — the characters, their situations, the action, the nature of the times, etc. — somehow contributes to the overall drive toward a resolution. And what really makes the novel compelling on that level is the kind of thing [Peter] Brooks often talks about: that is, the overwhelming sense that larger forces are at work here…The heart of the story, the literal interview with Beethoven, is thoroughly engaging and totally satisfies the “this is what I came for” element of reading…The parting of George and Beethoven is so warm and valedictory and satisfying. ~ Tom
You’ve done an excellent job of creating an interesting protagonist and taking him through the adventures leading to his encounter with Beethoven. Clearly you put your time with the Beethoven tour to good use in setting scenes and conveying impressions of life in Beethoven’s Vienna…it was engaging and well-written…I thought your allusion to the C-minor Opus 30 violin sonata was very evocative and portrayed the tempestuous nature of [Hannah’s and Robert’s] relationship. ~ Donna
All I can say is, brilliant writing. I smelled, heard, sensed and felt excited to be a witness to the [Lobkowitz] contest. Bravo! I found George and Beethoven to be very likable. In fact, I felt a great deal of affection for both. They were people who lived by their passions. This not only made them interesting but also fun to read. Above all else, this book is fun. I can find no better compliment than that. ~ Richard
It has been a thrill to read the book and be part of your process. I’ve finished reading and rereading and am completely in love with George and have renewed my love for Beethoven. I feel you have given me a gift; I’ve listened to more of his music in the last few weeks than I have in years! ~ Sherrie
First off let me say, thank you for letting me read this manuscript! I loved it. I think I was so excited to begin that I read too quickly. I could NOT turn the page fast enough. I was actually late for a meeting because I was so caught up in the book. I feel like after reading this book, I know Beethoven not only as a creative genius, but as a human being fraught with stresses and whims. Thank you for bringing such a noted figure to life! ~ Julie
The research that went into this just blows me away. This novel is very, very, very well done. ~ Courtney
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