Over the years, I have frequently seen Tamera Alexander’s name among currently popular Christian fiction novelists. But, I have never taken the time to check out her writing. Recently, though, A Note Yet Unsung, her latest novel, came up for review. I had time, and the description looked intriguing. I decided it just might be time to give this particular author a try.
When I agreed to review A Note Yet Unsung, I did not realize that it was book three in the Belmont Mansion series. Fortunately, while the series is built around Nashville’s Belmont Mansion, and while characters from each book do intersect with the storyline in the other installments of the series, each novel also stands on its own.
Set in Nashville immediately after the Civil War, A Note Yet Unsung welcomes young Rebekah Carrington back from Vienna, where she has spent the last ten years honing her music skills and interacting with European musical greats. Unfortunately, Rebekah lives in a time when women are not welcome into the public world of music. The dominant opinion of the day is that the world of the orchestra is too rigorous for the fragile female, and the idea of a woman in public performance is one of scandal and horror. So, instead of seeing her dream fulfilled, Rebekah is relegated to teaching solo lessons to the daughter of the wealthy Adelicia Cheatham of Belmont Mansion.
Meanwhile, Nashville’s brand new, highly acclaimed orchestra conductor is struggling. He has a very short time to complete a symphony to perform at the grand opening of Nashville’s new opera hall, but he is stuck. The stresses of his position, including pleasing the orchestra’s wealthy patrons, combines with an alarming head pain that is increasing in frequency and greatly impacting his ability to function as a conductor. Although he cannot allow the talented Miss Carrington into the orchestra, he can arrange for her to be his assistant. Perhaps with her help, the symphony will be finished on time.
It is probably obvious to even the most casual reader of Christian fiction that A Note Yet Unsung sets up the ideal setting for a romance. But, it also explores an aspect of history that the average reader probably would not consider. The storyline delves into multiple cultures, including a primary look at the elite Nashville society, a glimpse into the transition from slavery to servitude for some former slaves, and a hint at the culture of the eastern Tennessee hill country. The story is well written, well developed, and captivating. I love fiction, and there are very few novels that I’m ready to walk away from. I usually hunger to find out how it ends, but still want to hang on a little longer. Occasionally, though, a book comes along that lingers with me long after the last page has been turned. I find myself wanting to continue the story and walk with the characters just a little bit longer. A Note Yet Unsung is just such a book.
There is one little factor I must address while trying to also not give away any spoilers. As I read, I will admit to furrowing my brow at the way the author handled a couple of small side plots. They were little mysteries – hints of something – but they remained hints. The book drew closer and closer to the end, yet those little plots were not developed. Instead, they were resolved in what seemed, at first, to be a rather anticlimactic manner.
The more I considered the way these details were handled, however, the more I liked it. We are so conditioned to make big deals out of every little thing in our movies and novels. But, in life, some things are very present, yet still small. These two side plots were masterfully handled in a real life manner. Anything more would have ruined the impact of both.
I now find myself wishing I had requested the previous two Belmont Mansion books when they were available for review. But, I’m already planning to check them out of the library for the time being and hopefully add them to my book collection somewhere down the road.