“Forbidden Melody” is the story of Juliet, one of the most talented accomplished violinists of our time and the only woman who could make Emma Harvey’s world stand still.
“Forbidden Melody” is the story of Emma, one of the most talented young pianists of our time and the woman who captures Juliet Hamilton’s attention and keeps her heart and mind off music and everything else.
“Forbidden Melody” by Magnolia Robbins is a very beautifully penned age gap musical lesbian romance introducing Juliet Hamilton and Emma Harvey, opposed as night and day in character, equals in music united by their talents and passion for it, their attraction is undeniable and unforgettable.
Miss Magnolia Robbins did a wonderful job in creating their characters so different and their musical persona so similar, but with different styles and approaches: Juliet is perfection, while Emma is creativity.
And, the most important detail of the plot: Juliet and Emma’s love coming to light could become an outrageous scandal and ruin both of their careers.
Also, I loved the flow of the storyline told as first person from both Juliet and Emma sides. It was a beautiful reading experience and even a more creative writing style from the author.
This book is filled with music and makes the reader float on it’s notes tenderly, especially when music meets love.
I enjoyed even more the audible book narrated by Joan Dukore. She also did a great job in imagining how both character’s voices sound like. It was a very pleasant surprise.
Like someone said, it is a reading-feeling-musical life experience.
And like many other readers, I also started listening to the classical music evoked in the book:
Elgar – Salut d’amour
Chopin – Tristesse
Beethoven – Moonlight sonata
Debussy – Reverie
Bach – Sonata for Piano and Violin in B Minor
Liszt – La Campanella
Sibelius – Violin Concerto
Debussy – Claire de lune
Debussy – Arabesque No.1 & No.2
Schumman – Kinderszenen
Duke Ellington – Perdido
Phantom of the opera – Think of me
And it opened a whole new vision of mine for other brilliant classic musicians.
I loved this book so much because of the main characters, the storyline and also for the secondary characters like Miranda, Timothy or Andrew, who create the musical ensemble of the characters embellishing the storyline, as their own creation on a musical show.
I loved Emma and Juliet’s back and forth clashing of characters, their fights and their kisses and lovemaking, the up’s and down’s in the plot seem to never come to an end, it really kept the reader at the edge of her seat on this visceral journey and waiting for the final curtain.
Juliet Hamilton is one of the best violinist of her lifetime, as the first chair violin of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra for more than fifteen years and a professor at the “Bard”. She is engulfed in her career and in her musical persona, that gives her no time howsoever for her private life, nor to find a way to escape her controlling father Frederik, who financially sustains the “Bard” and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
Her greatest treasure is her Vuillaume violin that was given to her by her grandmother, Eleonor.
Emma Harvey is a brilliant young pianist that attends the “Bard” one of the best music conservatories in the country and she had a brilliant world-famous mentor, Miranda Kepner. She wants to play as good as she can to fulfill the dream of her lifetime: to play the piano in the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Her dream was almost stopped when at 18, she has lost her hearing. Her father was an awesome jazz player, but now he’s retired and Emma needs to take care of him.
These two facts are a lethal combination for a prodigy young woman like Emma to do something bad, instead she does her best to play at her highest notes and to impress at the “Bard” and to finally fulfill her dream. Yet, it’s so hard to impress someone like Juliet Hamilton.
I loved how they first met, when Emma auditioned for the “Bard“, as a pianist she was accompanied by a violinist, yet the violinist wasn’t too good and Juliet, who attended the audition, immediately took her place and accompanied Emma throughout the audition. Juliet was impressed even then, although she didn’t show it, and so was Emma.
The plot brings Emma and Juliet together in the same classroom at the “Bard”, while Juliet was teaching Miranda’s class for “Harmony & counterpoint”.
Juliet is in her late thirties, she is an accomplished musician, the violinist of New York and doesn’t like to be interrupted or admonished by a student. Yet, she gets to be surprised by a younger 27 years old gifted Emma in so many ways.
I enjoyed how Juliet knew how to sign and I loved their silent talks and sometimes their angry signing. I admired how Juliet loved to spend time with Keira and how she will finally adopted her and how she added Emma into her private outgoings with the little girl.
Juliet has also to teach Emma’s rehearsals private lessons for the finals at the “Bard” and that time spend together all by theirselves it’s so precious as they finally get the time to know better one another and fall in love.
Emma and Juliet sing divinely together, they bring music to whole new heights with their performances and everyone around notice that.
Emma adores Juliet, she knows she can’t keep herself from falling for her, not only for the music they make together, but for the whole new Juliet she discovers, a sensitive, caring, loving Juliet, the woman that she loves, the only one who could make the world around her stop.
Juliet, on the other hand, is so stunned by her growing feelings for Emma, that she doesn’t understand why she let’s Emma give her advices regarding her music, why taking her to see Keira and teach her how to play the piano, but she loves the music they play together and she is mesmerized by Emma’s appearance, her spirit, her softness, her sweetness, her strength, her stubbornness towards Juliet, her ways of seeing life, her vision of themselves, her power to give up everything for Juliet.
There were many turning points into the book, mainly caused by Juliet’s relationship with her father, but then also a big surprise from Emma and Juliet’s past.
This book is a musical journey within Emma and Juliet’s love story and also a life lesson regarding how a musician can overcome all odds, including being deaf, and become one of the best musicians of her lifetime.
Will Juliet give up her career for loving Emma?
How much patience will Emma have to wait for Juliet?
How is their past affecting their future?
How will Juliet overcome her father’s lifetime suppression?
This is one of the best books I have ever read.
I recommend it with all my heart.
Even better, try the audible version. It’s lovely.
This is how I’d picture Emma and Juliet playing:
Excerpt from the book:
“The arrogant professor that had taught the last hour of the freshman course disappeared. Instead of showing off, she blended with me. I admired every second she played, imagining the melody in my mind as if it was the first time I’d ever heard it. Every time I played music since I’d lost my hearing, it became a delicate balance of imagining the song in my mind verses feeling it physically. Each tap of a key produced a prominent and distinct vibration, all of which I’d learned over many years of practice. The vibrations themselves had become my understanding of music. While I wasn’t able to hear it, I felt it. In my fingers. In my feet, as it moved through the floor. It allowed me to keep time, to understand the patterns in the melody and the shapes the song would take. Between my imagination of the song and being present with it, I performed without much effort. I enjoyed it much the same. I would often close my eyes to concentrate, but I couldn’t stray away from the beautiful way Juliet bowed and her fingers wisped across the strings. Her long jet-black hair braided behind her back, bangs swept across her head. Those piercing green eyes locked on me while we joined together in the main melody of the piece. Not unlike my audition, Juliet and I lost ourselves in the music. What I had anticipated to be a movement or two had become the entire fifteen-minute-long piece. The students, in a class which had ended a short while ago, sat motionless in their seats. When the last notes came to a close, we sat together perfectly still. I’d found myself so engaged that I’d forgotten to breathe, my panting filling the room. Juliet wiped her forehead with the back of her hand and the two of us turned towards the students who remained.
EMMA HARVEY. As soon as I’d turned to her, I knew who she was. I wouldn’t have forgotten her face, despite all the months that had passed. Even more beautiful now than she had been across from me on the stage. A dainty frame with soft tanned skin that paired well with her unruly blonde locks that trailed down her back. She was still dressed as awkwardly as she had been the first day I’d seen her, but she’d would have likely been stunning in anything she wore.
When I had said she was a gifted musician, it had not been haphazardly. There were few I would have been able to compare her to. I wasn’t ashamed to admit that I was enthusiastic she was here at the conservatory. There had been more than a few times I’d wished for the opportunity to play with her again.
My breath had quickened along with my heart. The thoughts I had of her gentle caresses of her priceless violin were almost erotic. I yearned to be in her clutches like that, being as carefully played over as her instrument. Desiring someone knew me as well as she knew every crevice of that violin. To be as engaged by something as Juliet was with her music. A rolling heat rippled through me. My hands trembled keep myself steady. Those long delicate fingers consumed my thoughts. Admiring her play those notes over and over again, with such precision and care. My breaths were turning audibly ragged the longer I stared. I’d confirmed that she was practicing the piece from earlier this morning. The portions with crescendos. Each time a little different than the last. She dragged me in with every dip and curve she made with her body, pushing herself into the melody she played. Every subtle change of her facial expression, hinting at the emotions she was experiencing as she bowed out the notes. It was all so complex and intoxicating. There weren’t words to describe it. All I felt was desire. Longing. I wanted to be in the room with her, wrapped in the song like we had been earlier. The world not having existed.
Halfway through, the melody became a conversation. A string of notes sung by the violin and replied by the echo of piano keys rumbling through the room. It was a beautiful back and forth, which brought Juliet and I back to one another again. There was a small smile to her lips as she offered the reply to the cascading set of notes I played. It was if I had been asking into her soul by the emotive caress of the strings of her violin, and she’d invited me in with each riposte she gave.
It was hard not to be. If it weren’t for her terrible attitude, everything about her was enchanting. She was beautiful, with flawless ivory skin, a dainty frame and fingers meant for playing an instrument like a violin. Those eyes. God, those eyes. Every fleck of green cut straight through me. As arrogant as they made her seem, they also were one of the most alluring qualities about her. That, and her thick and voluptuous black locks, that laid captive in barrettes down her back. While we played, it was as if I knew her. As if every note that spilled from her was explaining details that no one else could understand. She felt familiar, like something I’d experienced in a dream. A person I’d known all of my life. Someone who I was meant to know. It occurred to me, as we fell into the last few measures of the song that I was longing for her. Desiring to know anything and everything about her. Longing for her like the piano longed for the soothing notes of the violin in Tristesse.
Emma herself was music.
A beautiful nocturne, calling out in the night. Begging to be heard. And she was overwhelming everything around me.
There had never been another person who looked at me the way Juliet Hamilton did when I played. She was still looking at me, the same way she had almost four years ago now, when I’d first auditioned for the Bard. Her green eyes came alive. Her jet-black hair fell at her shoulders, straightened neatly, still cut with swooping bangs. There was a bit more grey to it now. A few more wrinkle lines across her face. She was still breathtaking—stunning—as she had been all those years ago. After my attention turned to her, she was all that remained in the room. I could tell by the expression on her face, she was as lost as I was. Despite knowing I’d see her, and she me, it hadn’t been until that moment I realized not a thing had changed between us. That even now, she consumed every piece of me. Her attention followed me as I took careful steps towards off the stage. I begged myself not to look at her, but I couldn’t help myself.”